Assignment: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Julie has been a nurse at Memorial Hospital for three years. During that time, she has developed productive relationships with her colleagues and has earned a reputation for providing exceptional care to patients. One day she approaches you, her manager, and asks to speak in private. Once you are alone, Julie explains that over the past couple of months she has heard a physician and two nurses repeatedly make disparaging remarks about people who are homosexual. She appears visibly upset as she tells you this. Julie says that the situation has become so uncomfortable that she no longer feels safe in this environment.
Does this scenario reflect a possible case of sexual harassment? How would you respond to Julie, and what steps might you take next?
Sexual harassment is an important topic in today’s organizations–one that is often addressed through HR presentations and trainings. However, even for experienced nurse managers and HR professionals, it can be challenging to recognize some of the behaviors and actions that may indicate sexual harassment. Nurses in leadership and management positions have a critical responsibility to become attuned to the various interactions that can be problematic, including inappropriate remarks and jokes, improper fraternization, quid pro quo situations, and potentially offensive images.
- Review the articles, “Sexual Harassment – A Touchy Subject for Nurses,” “Why Are Nurses Leaving? Findings from an Initial Qualitative Study on Nursing,” and “Bullying, Harassment, and Horizontal Violence in the Nursing Workforce.” Consider sexual harassment situations most commonly experienced by nurses.
- Think about a work environment with which you are familiar. Have you witnessed or experienced any behaviors that–perhaps with the benefit of hindsight and increasing awareness–may be construed as sexual harassment, even if you did not think of them that way at the time? Do you recall any instances in which you might have intentionally or unintentionally contributed to or participated in an environment that tolerated harassment against one or more individuals? If so, what were your thoughts and feelings at the time? How, perhaps, has your perspective since shifted?
- Select one of the following options:
- Option 1: Conduct research via the Walden Library, or other scholarly sites, to select an article that presents an authentic example of workplace sexual harassment.
- Option 2: Identify an authentic example of suspected or proven sexual harassment from your professional experience.
- Conduct research related to your selected example to assess the ramifications that may result from instances of sexual harassment.
- Consider how you could partner with HR to mitigate situations of sexual harassment in your workplace. In addition, think about specific steps you could take to diminish inappropriate behaviors in the workplace.
By Day 7
Submit a 3- to 5-page paper in which you do the following:
- Describe an authentic example of suspected or proven sexual harassment.
- Explain how this specific instance of sexual harassment impacted the workplace.
- Identify at least two legal ramifications that could have (or did) result from this situation and how they could (or did) negatively impact the workplace.
- Briefly explain other ramifications (e.g., organizational culture, staff relationships, individual and team performances, patient safety, quality of care) that could have (or did) result because of this specific instance.
- Describe the actions that were taken to resolve the situation, if applicable.
- Formulate an action plan that can be used to mitigate and/or ameliorate behaviors that constitute sexual harassment.
- Based on your example, explain how you would educate staff on the identification and prevention of inappropriate behaviors. Describe at least two specific steps you would take to diminish similar sexual harassment situations.
- Describe at least two ways you could partner with HR to effectively accomplish your action plan.
Lussier, R. N., & Hendon, J. R. (2018).
Human resource management: Functions, applications, & skill development (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Chapter 3, “The Legal Environment and Diversity Management” (pp. 74-111) Chapter 3 provides an in-depth overview of the laws that mandate equal employment opportunities in the workplace. The authors define discrimination and sexual harassment and explain how knowledgeable managers can detect and mitigate these behaviors in their workplaces.
Cogin, J., & Fish, A. (2009). Sexual harassment – A touchy subject for nurses.
Journal of Health Organization and Management, 23(4), 442–462. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. This article describes a mixed-methods research study that was conducted to analyze the prevalence of sexual harassment in clinical settings. Findings indicated that patients and physicians are the primary instigators of sexual harassment. The article highlights ethical decision making and intervention techniques.
MacKusick, C. I., & Minick, P. (2010). Why are nurses leaving? Findings from an initial qualitative study on nursing attrition.
Medsurg Nursing, 19(6), 335–340. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. For this study, the researchers interviewed nurses who decided to leave the profession after only a few years of service. Study participants commonly cited one or more of the following reasons for leaving: unfriendly workplace (i.e., bullying and/or sexual harassment), emotional distress, and fatigue and exhaustion. Participants shared authentic examples and feelings about each factor.
Vessey, J. A., DeMarco, R., & DiFazio, R. (2010). Bullying, harassment, and horizontal violence in the nursing workforce: The state of the science.
Annual Review of Nursing Research, 28, 133–157. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. Over the years, bullying, harassment, and horizontal violence (BHHV) among nurses has increased in health care settings. The authors of this article illustrate BHHV situations and solutions through the use of models and authentic examples