Sexual harassment and management not stepping up

  1. Hi all. So I am an LNA who works for a "prestigious" hospital. I came to this institution because I was under the impression that they were the gold standard of healthcare. It is a little over a year later, and I am sorely regretting my decision to work at this place.

    I only ever worked at one other hospital before this, and though the ratios and patients were much harder to deal with, the management team was so supportive that it was truly like being in a family. I was incorrect in assuming I would encounter this support from my new management team.

    I'm not sure what it is, but a lot of the male patients on our unit seem to believe that they have the right to harass the female nursing staff and even worse is management and many of the nurses put up with it. I had a patient a few months ago who, every day I encountered him, asked me very personal questions and started to flash his genitals at me. I admit I am not the greatest at confronting these situations as I have sexual assault related PTSD (in therapy) and tend to shut down. After the third day of this man being downright inappropriate, I decided I wanted my charge nurse to please talk to him. I should have talked to him first instead of just fleeing the room when he acted out, but I didn't have it in me at the time and needed support. A nurse on my unit saw how upset this situation was making me and went up to the charge and the supervisor with me as I told them I felt this patient needed a stern talking to and I was wildly uncomfortable taking care of him. At my old place of work, everything would have been done to ensure I felt safe and supported. They would have switched me out with a male aide, and management would have marched into that room and set some very serious boundaries. This was not the case here. I was told it was in my job description to handle these things independently. The nurse who witnessed this was furious, but what can you do. I later learned as I walked away, the charge and the supervisor rolled their eyes at me and said something to the effect of "she's just overreacting now because of all the stuff going on in Hollywood" and the secretary actually heard this and barked "that has nothing to do with it!" back at them (thanks girl!) I am so hurt by their remarks and can't believe that there are women out there who won't stand up for their sisters because of their old school beliefs.

    Fast forward to yesterday. I have an elderly patient to bathe and this guy just starts masturbating, while moaning "it feels so good" right in my face! I was shocked! I very sternly told him he needed to STOP what he was doing right now and that he was being so so inappropriate. I called a male nurse into the room to help me roll him to change the linens then left the room. Following this a male family member of another patient began to almost stalk me around the pod. The other nurses said he would peak around corners and stare at me while I wasn't looking. When I did look up at him, he told me a dirty joke that I did not laugh at and said was inappropriate. I was so disheartened by this day. The nurses on the unit (some, not all) started to poke fun and say it was funny how all the creeps preyed on me, wondering what nickname they should give me. One said I needed a blessing with holy water, to which I replied "I'M the one who needs a blessing???" They also said I was just too nice and that's why patients are abusive to me. I don't think this is the case. I believe you can be a kind person and not automatically expect that others are going to violate you in return. I even told them I set boundaries today, and they accused me of being too nice about it, spinning unrealistic tales of how mean they would have been to these men had they been in my shoes.

    Is this the new norm or something? I can't wrap my freakin head around it! And if I went to management to talk about how I feel unsafe and unsupported in this culture, well, we all know they'd do jack ****

    I'm applying elsewhere but I just don't know what to do in the interim. My therapist is concerned I'm being retraumatized and wants me to get out ASAP but it's kind of a waiting game for the time being. Does anyone else have an experience like this? I have a desire to speak with HR but I'm not even sure what that would accomplish.
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    About Boopdeedoop

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 5; Likes: 15
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience


  3. by   caliotter3
    My first reaction would be to advise you to seek legal counsel regarding bringing a civil action against the employer but we both know that would only add to your distress and cause you a lot of undue expense with no known positive result. Concentrate on getting out of there. If it gets to be too much, then see your PCP, resign, and if you have to, apply for temporary disability. Sorry this is happening to you.
  4. by   KatieMI
    Get out of there as soon as possible and take doctor's note for remaining time. Sitting without job for a little while is way better than having PTSD flare up.
    It is not "normal" but there are places which have higher tolerance to sexual abuse, staff being abused, racism and all other evils. It is "systemic defect" of a sort, and nothing short of big, fat action from both private and state/federal sides with following public decimation of administration might help to change it. Clientele is well aware of it and so "customers" with certain attitudes probably prefer this place for health care needs.
    Please be advised that, if this place belongs to a health care system, what happens there is likely to be a "norm" in all other system's facilities as well.
  5. by   Orion81RN
    I don't have any advice other than what has been given. You are already looking for a new job, and you are in counceling, so that is good. I just want to say I'm so sorry you are going through this. It is insane the things we have to put up with because of fear of repercussion. As a previous poster stated, bringing action, which is what SHOULD be done, can very well harm your reputation for other employers. Which is absurd. Can you imagine the outrage if male customers did this to women cashiers in stores on a regular basis as if it were the norm??? You are not going to hear, "that is part of the job." And if you DID hear that from a manager, corporate would fire that person immediately as they would see him as a big risk for lawsuit. But nurses? No way. Too much money to be made. It's quite upsetting.
  6. by   Boopdeedoop
    I am currently using intermittent FMLA for the days that I just can't handle it. As much as I would love to seek legal counsel, as you stated, it would cause me a lot of undue expense. This particular company also has a lot of money and resources, a deeply systemic set of problems within their culture, and a very hoity-toity reputation to uphold. It would be a David vs Goliath scenario, and that just sounds too stressful. I am seeking employment from a company whose culture I know to be good and just, and am hopeful of an eventual callback. Thank you for your response.
    Last edit by Boopdeedoop on Mar 5 : Reason: Grammar
  7. by   Boopdeedoop
    Thank you for your sympathy. I think it's ridiculous for anyone to have to put up with routine sexual harassment in any industry, but especially one in which we devote our whole hearts to caring for others. What a reward. I don't know how the powers that be sleep at night. Thank you for your response. It makes me feel a little better reading these comments.
  8. by   Boopdeedoop
    i'm using FMLA, however it is intermittent. It will probably extend into STD because I'm a train wreck at the moment and cannot stomach the idea of being in a place where it's almost guaranteed I will be harassed and triggered for a 12 hour window. Thank you for your response
  9. by   Been there,done that
    "My therapist is concerned I'm being retraumatized and wants me to get out ASAP but it's kind of a waiting game for the time being. " You have already been retraumatized. You already have professional advice.
    There are other jobs out there that won't subject you to horny psychos and demented horny old men.

    Take care of yourself, because management won't.
    Last edit by Been there,done that on Mar 5
  10. by   kimpossible4real
    Hope you are able to find a different role. Take care of you. Could be a long wait for Mgmt.
  11. by   Boopdeedoop
    I found a new job and resigned from my old job today. It went surprisingly well and though money will be tight for the next couple of weeks, my mental health thanks me. I thank you for all of the advice and compassion.