Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual behavior expressed toward another person. It can be physical, such as touching, hugging, putting a hand on a shoulder, or neck rubs. It can be verbal, such as compliments and comments of a sexual nature, compliments and comments about a person’s appearance, attractiveness, or attire, suggestive remarks, or outright invitations or requests for sexual favors.
Sexual harassment can also be “out in the workplace” – images that employees look at on their computer, jokes they tell each other, topics they discuss at break time. Even if these images, jokes, and conversation are not aimed directly at an employee, they still can contribute to a hostile workplace, where some employees may feel uncomfortable or intimidated.
Sexual harassment does not have to occur on company property or on company time. “I was drunk at the company holiday party” or “we were out late after the trade show” are not acceptable excuses for any kind of harassment.
Healthcare facilities are responsible not only for protecting their employees from sexual harassment from other employees, but also third parties, such as vendors, clients, customers, suppliers, and partners.