With the Gary Nassar investigation and trial, #MeToo drew attention to sexual harassment and abuse in the healthcare profession. This is the first in a series of posts discussing that issue and how to deal effectively with it. Such misconduct can be directed at other employees, patients, consumers or visitors.
This first post will define what sexual harassment is in the employment context. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:
- Conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with another employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, uncomfortable, or offensive work environment.
- Decisions concerning such things as promotions, raises, scheduling, or getting and keeping employment based on an employee’s or applicant’s reaction to sexual advances.
The above can manifest itself in unwelcome sexual flirtations, propositions, verbal abuse of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors, unnecessary touching, showing graphic photos or making jokes of a sexual nature, or physical assault.
The standard under which an employer’s potential liability will be judged is whether the employer knew or should have known of an employee’s propensity to commit such acts. Future posts will discuss safeguards for employees to avoid or mitigate such risks.