Many nurses in California and around the country have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment on the job, and one report said that around 20 percent of nurses had done so in the past three years. As news of major scandals in the entertainment industry and the rise of the #MeToo movement have drawn major media attention to the issue of sexual assault and harassment, research indicates that these issues are also significant in the health care industry.
According to a Medscape report issued in June 2018, some nurses said that sexual harassment has inhibited their ability to do their jobs. In a study of over 6,200 clinical practitioners, nurses were asked about a number of conduct issues, including unwanted text messages or emails with sexual content, comments about sex or bodies, direct propositions for sex, offers of employment benefits in exchange for sex, threats for denying sex, unwanted groping or touching, repeated questioning about dating, crowding personal space and rape. Of the respondents, 11 percent reported being victims of sexual misconduct or harassment on the job, while another 14 percent reported witnessing such behavior directed at another person.
The respondents were most likely to have experienced or witnessed unwanted sexual comments, leering, deliberate and unwanted touching and hugging or groping. In addition, many complained of sexual propositions, unwanted text messages and emails with sexual comments and repeated pestering for dates. For many, sexual harassment was not merely an annoyance; 73 percent said that these experiences interfered with their jobs, and 36 percent reported avoiding working with specific colleagues.
Offensive sexual comments can not only make the workplace unpleasant, it can force victims out of their jobs and create an unfriendly climate for women workers. People who have been subjected to workplace harassment can work with an employment lawyer to pursue compensation for the damages they have suffered.