How Nurses Can Fight Sexual Harassment
John Rossheim | Monster.com
Liability and Retention Issues May Spur Employers to Act
Still, employers should be highly motivated to create an environment that prevents sexual harassment, since they can be held liable for the actions of independent contractors and even patients — not just their own employees.
But healthcare employers aren’t always receptive when nurses complain of sexual harassment, according to Summers, who says that while working as a nurse she was groped by inebriated patients twice.
“The hospital management showed me zero support,” she says. “It was me against the world, as if I were a renegade. If we want to keep nurses in the workforce, we’re going to have to do a better job of supporting them.”
Hospital attorneys should pursue assault cases with law enforcement and give harassed nurses access to counseling, Summers says. “If we don’t talk about these problems, we’re never going to be able to fix them.”
The ANA, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American Hospital Association did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
What to Do If You’re Harassed
The ANA Web site offers this advice to nurses subjected to sexual harassment:
• Confront the harasser, and make it clear the attention is unwanted.
• Report the harassment to your supervisor or to a higher authority if your supervisor is the harasser. Go to a government agency or the courts if necessary.
• Document the harassment promptly in writing.
• Seek support from friends, relatives, colleagues or your state nurses association.
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