Sexual harassment in the healthcare industry

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2023 | Employment Law |

Despite state and federal laws protecting workers, sexual harassment continues to infect workplaces. Wrongful actions against men and women cause pain and suffering and sometimes lead to the illegal loss of jobs and benefits.

While almost all occupations have the potential for sexual harassment, some industries have a higher prevalence of these types of abuse. Healthcare workers fall into this category.

Information on nursing and harassment

According to an analysis by Safer America, about 11.50% of sexual harassment complaints on the federal level come from healthcare and social assistance occupations. More than half of all nurses surveyed have experienced sexual harassment at work, though only just over one quarter reported an incident. More than a third of nurses have seen a co-worker harassed while on the job.

Female nurses (62%) report a higher frequency of harassment than male nurses (51%).  Female nurses also are more likely to report an incident than their male counterparts to management. Still, only 29% of female nurses reported a case after experiencing sexual harassment.

Data on types of harassment

Regardless of gender, 56% of nurses experience verbal harassment, while 37% experience physical harassment.  Nearly 30% of nurses experience incidents having to do with inappropriate gestures, winking or other visual harassment. For nurses, the perpetrators of sexual harassment come from a variety of sources:

  • Harassment by a patient (58%)
  • Harassment by medical colleagues (26%)
  • Harassment by other nurses (24%)
  • Harassment by the friends or family of patients (19%)

The impacts of sexual harassment on nurses can range from increased anxiety at work to significant career impairment. Victims of workplace sexual harassment have recourse to powerful legal options.