Women make up the backbone of healthcare around the world, and the Bay Area is no exception. An estimated 90 percent of nurses, and 70 percent of healthcare workers overall, are female. Yet the women who work hard every day to keep the rest of us healthy face must deal with a long list of serious workplace problems, including sexual harassment.
Burnout over harassment and discrimination
A group called Women in Global Health is warning that these issues are causing burnout in many female healthcare professionals. Workers in about 90 countries have gone on strike as these issues, which also include unequal pay and unpaid labor, job loss and domestic violence, have only grown worse during the pandemic. Unless conditions improve and women are able to stay in the field, the problem could turn into “a global health security issue,” Women in Global Health’s executive director said.
Among the group’s findings was that sexual harassment is a “major problem for women health and social care workers.” Despite this, in most parts of the world, victims may have little power to fight back. The report indicated that only 37 percent of countries have official protocols for preventing and fighting sexual harassment against healthcare workers.
The two forms of sexual harassment
Whether you work at a hospital, factory, office or school, sexual harassment is against the law in California. Harassment can take one of two forms. One version is where a boss or supervisor suggests a quid pro quo exchange of career advancement or financial benefits for sexual favors or threatens to fire or demote the victim if they do not comply.
The other form of sexual harassment is creating a toxic work environment. Using some combination of unwanted sexual advances, comments, jokes, emails, photographs, phone calls, text messages and more, the harasser makes being at work so unbearable that the victim cannot do their job.
Whichever form you have experienced at work, you have the right to speak up to your HR department to management to stop it. If that does not work, you may be able to pursue a sexual harassment lawsuit that holds your employer (or former employer) accountable and compensates you for the harm you have suffered personally and professionally.