Nurses: Top 5 Things Every Nurse Needs to Know About Sexual Harassment at Work

Sexual Harassment.

Sexual harassment occurs much too frequently in nurses’ workplaces in Georgia and throughout the country. When an employee experiences sexual harassment on the job or is affected by incidents of sexual harassment at work, it is important to learn more about filing a claim. The following are the top five things every employee needs to know about sexual harassment on the job.

1. Sexual Harassment is a Form of Sex Discrimination Prohibited Under Federal Law

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace, and sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. This includes sexual harassment in hospital settings, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare-related job sites.

2. Unlawful Harassment Can Include Remarks About a Person’s Sex Without Making Comments of a Sexual Nature

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) clarifies that “harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature,” but instead “can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.” For instance, if a person in the workplace makes offensive comments about women—even if that person making the comments is a woman—such comments can constitute sexual harassment.

3. Patient or Other Non-Employee Can Be the Harasser

The person engaging in the harassing behavior does not have to be an employee in order for the behavior to rise to unlawful sexual harassment. While a co-worker or a supervisor may indeed be the harasser in some cases, non-employees (such as patients) also can be harassers.

4. Victim of Sexual Harassment Does Not Have to Be the Person Who is Harassed

Multiple people may be able to file a sexual harassment claim under federal law. To be sure, the victim of sexual harassment does not have to be the person who is the one being harassed. As the EEOC explains, a person who files a sexual harassment claim under Title VII can be “anyone affected by the offensive conduct.” For example, a nurse may be able to file a sexual harassment claim if he or she is forced to work in a hostile work environment as a result of the harassment targeted at another healthcare worker or employee.

5. There Are Two Recognized Types of Sexual Harassment

Generally speaking, there are two recognized types of unlawful sexual harassment at work: hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment.

As the American Bar Association (ABA) explains, quid pro quo harassment refers to a situation in which “a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances.” For example, quid pro quo harassment might occur when a nurse’s supervisor says that the nurse will be terminated or will face other repercussions at work if that nurse refuses to have sex with the supervisor.

Hostile work environment, according to the ABA, happens “when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, offensive sexual materials, or unwelcome physical contact as a regular part of the work environment.” Most single, isolated incidents are not sufficient to rise to the level of being a hostile work environment. However, if the single, isolated incident is so severe, it may create a hostile work environment.

Contact an Employment Discrimination Attorney in Georgia

A Georgia employment discrimination lawyer can answer any questions you have about sex discrimination and sexual harassment claims in the healthcare workplace. Contact The Vaughn Law Firm to learn more about the services we provide to employees in Georgia.