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Sexual harassment remains a problem in the medical industry

Soap operas are a guilty pleasure for many California residents. Finding out who killed who, who is cheating on who and more keep them watching. These daytime shows often depict numerous doctors and nurses involved in clandestine relationships happening in janitorial closets and empty hospital rooms.

While these shows may be entertaining, they tend to romanticize a significant problem in the health care industry -- sexual harassment. Nurses played by actors might not mind sexually aggressive doctors (and vice versa), but in the real world, it's a problem that needs addressing.

The scope of the problem

The issue of sexual harassment has become a more talked about problem in recent years. Many of the victims refuse to remain silent any longer. In fact, a lot more people in the medical industry are coming forward with their claims of sexual harassment. These incidents do not only happen in large medical facilities, such as hospitals. They also happen in smaller medical practices.

Part of the problem isn't even co-workers, however. Up to around 47% of doctors and approximately 71% of nurses say that a patient sexually harassed them. The harassment went beyond physical contact. Some dealt with a stalker, others received inappropriate communications through social media, and others endured numerous and persistent attempts at contact.

What employers should do about it

Larger hospitals may already have policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment, but the medical industry as a whole should take steps to keep it out of their practices as well. Smaller medical offices may not think this could be a problem for them, but it can happen anywhere. You deserve to work in an environment free from all harassment, including sexual harassment.

Your employer should have policies regarding prohibited behavior such as this, along with a complaint procedure. Every allegation should receive the appropriate attention, which includes an investigation and resolution. If you experience sexual harassment, you have rights.

What you can do about it

If your employer fails to adequately address your concerns, you can go elsewhere for the support you need. Federal and state laws protect you from this type of behavior. You should know that many people whose attempts to resolve the issue in-house end up experiencing retaliation for their complaints. The law prohibits this and should not prevent you from asserting your rights. In addition to the emotional and other support you may require, you can also seek legal support.

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