Doctor Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination impact every industry. No one is safe from the threat of sexual harassment – including patients at a doctor’s office. Doctor-patient sexual harassment can cause significant emotional and physical injuries for a patient. It is a breach of the duty of care that can interfere with the patient’s health and treatment. A physician, dentist, psychologist or psychiatrist who commits sexual harassment may be liable for a patient’s related damages.

The sexual harassment attorneys at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can help if you are a survivor of doctor sexual harassment. Contact our California sexual harassment lawyers about your case today. We accept cases from around the country. We respond promptly to online consultation requests 24/7, as well as calls to our office at (855) 944-0661.

Sexual Harassment in Health Care

Sex crimes often involve a power disparity between the perpetrator and victim, such as a teacher-student relationship, employer-employee relationship, or clergy-patron relationship. A perpetrator can take advantage of his or her position of trust with the victim to commit sexual harassment, discrimination and/or assault. Sexual harassment in health care generally refers to harassment by a doctor against a patient. It can describe sexual harassment or abuse against patients by any professional in the medical or mental health industry. It can refer to both negligence as well as intentional harm or wrongdoing against a patient.

What Is Doctor Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a type of sexual discrimination according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This law applies to any workplace, including a hospital or doctor’s office, with 15 or more employees. It makes it illegal for any employer, employee or others in the workplace to request sexual favors, make unwelcome sexual advances, or discriminate against an employee or patient based on sex. Sexual harassment breaches Title VII if it is severe or persistent enough to create a hostile environment, such as one in which a patient does not feel safe. The other type of sexual harassment claim is quid pro quo.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo, or this for that, sexual harassment at a doctor’s office describes a physician or psychologist offering something in exchange for the patient’s completion of sexual requests or favors, such as a kiss or date. It can also describe an offer from a health care worker not to do something, such as not intentionally injuring a patient as long as he or she complies with the sexual request. Quid pro quo is a dangerous type of sexual harassment that can make a patient feel trapped and unable to go against the physician’s demands.

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment

A hostile environment is one in which a patient does not feel safe. It describes a situation where a physician’s harassment or abuse is so pervasive as to create an offensive, intimidating or dangerous patient environment. A physician’s actions could also create a hostile work environment for other employees at the doctor’s office, such as nurses or administrative workers. Either way, the offender could be liable for the damages he or she caused by creating a hostile environment via sexual harassment.

Examples of Inappropriate Conduct by a Medical Professional

The same sexual harassment laws that apply to employers apply to medical professionals as well. Inappropriate conduct can refer to words and/or actions by a health care professional that negligently or intentionally breach the duty of care. Any medic that takes advantage of a patient’s impaired state, physical injuries, mental limitations or vulnerability to commit sexual harassment or sex crimes should be held accountable. As a patient, it is important to recognize the potential signs of sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct by a medical professional. Early detection can prevent the worst outcomes of sexual harassment.

Warning Signs of Sexual Harassment or Exploitation

  • Excessive intimacy
  • Inappropriate touching of sexual organs
  • Unnecessary photographs of genitalia
  • Invasions of personal space
  • Unethical behaviors
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sexual suggestions
  • Using drugs or alcohol during care
  • Patient isolation
  • Hiring a patient to work for the doctor
  • Providing special treatment
  • Giving excessive gifts
  • Sharing sexual jokes
  • Declaring feelings to a patient

What to Do if You Were Sexually Harassed by Your Doctor or Physician

If you believe your experience with a doctor qualifies as health care sexual harassment, you have rights under federal and state laws. Sexual actions between a patient and doctor and/or therapist are not only inappropriate – they are unethical and illegal. Take certain steps right away to protect your rights after physician sexual harassment.

Seek Professional Help

First, end your professional relationship with the perpetrator. It is normal to feel guilty or responsible for the harassment, but remember it was your doctor’s legal responsibility to keep the relationship professional. The physician betrayed your trust and broke the law. Seek professional assistance to protect your rights and file an official claim. Contact a sexual assault crisis center for personal advice. Then, call a sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible for an overview of your legal rights. Speaking to an attorney can provide peace of mind as you take action against a harasser.

How to Report Doctor Sexual Harassment

After doctor sexual harassment, report the crime to the professional association to which the doctor belongs. The association can conduct an official investigation into the physician’s habits and behaviors. You should also report the incident to the doctor’s licensing board. Removal of the physician’s license could prevent him or her from victimizing other patients. Call 911 to report sexual harassment if you are in imminent danger.

Compensation for Victims of Doctor Sexual Harassment

Contacting a sexual harassment lawyer could help you bring a civil claim against the doctor or psychiatrist who sexually harassed, abused, exploited or assaulted you or a loved one. A civil claim could hold the harasser accountable for his or her actions. A lawsuit could end in financial compensation the defendant must pay you to make up for your losses. A compensatory award could include an amount to cover related medical bills, pain and suffering, legal fees, lost wages, emotional distress, and more.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Doctor sexual harassment is a somewhat common crime. A hospital might not perform a proper background check on its employees or supervise physicians closely enough to prevent sex crimes. Since the medical field often relies on touch, it can be difficult for a patient to differentiate what is normal from sexual harassment or assault. Contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi immediately upon suspecting a doctor or another health care professional of sexual harassment. Our lawyers can assist you with a claim confidentially and respectfully. Call (855) 944-0661 today for a free private consultation near you.