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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

5 Sexual Harassment Problems that Nurses Handle

sad female nurse

Many nurses view nurse sexual harassment as an occupational hazard. It just comes with the territory. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Unwanted sexual advances in the workplace is against the law, and employees are protected from harassment from coworkers, supervisors, and third parties. This means a nurse is protected from sexual harassment from doctors, patients, and other coworkers. Sexual harassment is illegal.

5 Sexual Harassment Problems that Nurses Handle

1. Oversexualized Stereotypes

Naughty nurses are a popular option for Halloween, and the media shares these images, too. This perception makes nurses a sexual object to men and women.

2. Aggressive Behavior

Due to the oversexualized stereotypes, patients tend to believe they are entitled to sexual attentions from nurses. Their demands can be quite violent.

3. Thick-Skinned Nurses

Since nurses deal with these stereotypes and actions routinely, nurses develop thick skin. Often, they will not report incidents of sexual harassment. Most hospitals allow nurses to remove themselves from care of patients who have crossed a line, but many nurses rarely take the opportunity.

4. The Training and Memory Gap

What hospitals profess to offer for sexual harassment versus what employees recall receiving can be very different. Even if a training was provided, nurses may not recall the training.

5. No Support

man's hand on woman's shoulder

Although employers are going to be liable for third party behavior, hospitals tend not to take action when nurses complain of sexual harassment. Rather than supporting the nurse, hospital management make the nurse feel like he or she is in the wrong.

How to Deal with Nurse Sexual Harassment

Knowing how to respond to sexual harassment in a work environment can be tricky. Some people freeze up and ignore the problem. Others remove themselves from the situation. And others report the incident.

To combat sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to know how you should respond. Having a plan minimizes the mental and emotional back-and-forth.

1. Tell the Harasser You Aren’t Interested.

Just say no. You need to be clear with the harasser that their behavior is inappropriate. This is important for when you report the ongoing problem.

2. Report the Harassment, either to Your Manager or a Higher Authority.

If your manager is your harasser, then you want to report the harassment to someone else. You may even want to notify your manager’s supervisor as well as the Human Resources. It is often wise to report both in-person and via email.

3. Write Down What Happened with Details.

Memory fades. Therefore, write down as much information as you can about the events that caused you discomfort. This information could be important in the future.

4. Reach out for Support from Friends, Family, Coworkers.

The support of your community is vital to your wellbeing. Don’t try to go it alone. Your family and friends can be valuable as you process through what happened to you.

5. If the Harassment Continues, Report to the Police.

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Paper trails reveal an ongoing problem that you were actively trying to resolve. Although a police report may seem excessive, it can be useful if you take the situation to court.

6. Consult an Employment Lawyer.

While sexual harassment is never appropriate, not all situations of sexual harassment make a good legal case. But you should always explore your options. Reach out to an employment lawyer to find out how your situation sits under the law.

Sexual harassment in the workplace against a legally protected class is doubly illegal. When you know that you are experiencing sexual harassment due to your gender or race, definitely speak with a lawyer.

Chat with an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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