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Campaign fights sexual harassment in healthcare

Despite the rise of the #MeToo movement and an increased media focus on sexual harassment on the job, many California workers continue to suffer from inappropriate advances and other misconduct in the workplace. One campaign is focusing specifically on harassment incidents in the health care industry, following similar efforts in entertainment, tech and other major sectors. Time's Up Healthcare aims not only to fight sexual harassment but also to increase gender diversity and equality in the industry.

The health care campaign is a spinoff of the anti-harassment campaign launched in entertainment. Time's Up said that it received the second-largest number of requests from health care workers, following only entertainment, the campaign's generating industry. According to advocates, while women make up 80 percent of the workforce in healthcare, they only make up 10 percent of its chief executives. In addition, workers at all level of health care reported serious problems with harassment and discrimination. One study noted that 58 percent of female surgeons had experienced sexual harassment in the past year, as had 25 percent of male surgeons.

As in other industries, many of the victims of harassment did not report the incidents. They cited fears of retribution or the hindrance of their promising careers in medicine as strong deterrents against speaking out. Health care is one of the largest industries in the United States, with over 13 million people employed in some aspect of it. While a number of laws prohibit workplace discrimination and harassment, the media coverage in recent years has highlighted the continuing presence of this kind of mistreatment.

Workplace sexual harassment is against the law, but many victims continue to be punished through retaliation and other actions that seek their silence. People who are dealing with harassment on the job might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse they might have.

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