Sexual Harassment from Chaplain

  1. I'm not really sure what I am hoping to happen by telling my story... anyway... here it goes:

    I am a hospice nurse and I love my job. Several months ago, one of the chaplains (male) requested oral sex from me. It was shocking, embarrassing and honestly, I became physically ill after I removed myself from the situation. Immediately after this happened, I reported what he had said to me, in writing, to my manager. As far as I know, nothing has happened or changed in regards to this chaplain.

    Since this incident, I have begun to show signs of increased anxiety and depression. I have trouble sleeping, I have trouble getting out of bed, I have trouble leaving the house. I am currently working with a psychiatrist.

    Two months ago, I decided my mental health was more important and I changed from working in Home Care and moved to the Inpatient hospice in order to get away from this chaplain and from my boss who doesn't seem to care about what I was going through. Now, this same chaplain has been "filling in" and taking "on call" for other chaplains in my organization. This means there is a very real possibility he could show up to the Inpatient center any time. The thought of being around him again only increased my anxiety. I told my new boss about what had occurred. My new boss is supportive and I do feel like she is on my side.

    HR has been dodging me. They won't return my phone calls. HR said they were launching a "full investigation" and two weeks later asked me if I "had calmed down enough to accept an apology" from this chaplain. I was offended and said I did not want to be in the same room with him ever again. HR promised me a phone call on Monday and I have not heard from them. I left messages with my HR representative.

    Thoughts on my next steps -

    IF HR continues to take no action, I am considering filing a formal ethics complaint with the Board of Chaplaincy. I will hire a lawyer to help me with the process as it is very involved and I would be interviewed multiple times through the process.

    I think the only way I would NOT file this ethics complaint is if HR bans him from my unit and makes him pay for some kind of sensitivity training. (I don' think this is going to happen).

    Does anyone have thoughts? Suggestions? Advice?
  2. Visit LuckyGirlSuze profile page

    About LuckyGirlSuze, BSN

    Joined: Oct '10; Posts: 9; Likes: 3

    14 Comments

  3. by   cardiacfreak
    I am very sorry this happened to you. I would contact your corporate compliance line if HR has not done anything. Please seek counseling from someplace. Do you have an AEP?
  4. by   LuckyGirlSuze
    I am seeing a therapist anywhere from 4-2 days/week.
    The only update I have is that HR said they would get back to me between today and Wednesday with "a resolution". The waiting is so awful...

    Sorry, what is an AEP?
  5. by   caliotter3
    Get another job and seek legal advice.
  6. by   amoLucia
    I think she meant E A P (typo?). Employee Assistance Program - I would guess that your employer has one because of the your clients, families and staff.
  7. by   Oldmahubbard
    This is revolting. I don't think "sensitivity training" will address it.

    I am pretty sure you are not the only victim.
  8. by   barlat
    You have been sexually harassed on the job and seem to be having post traumatic stress and employer is not assisting you. Have you considered reporting to Board or agency over chaplains? What about EEOC? Your rights have been violated. You should get reimbursement for counseling as a minimum. Look up EEOC lawyers.
    This chaplain is a sexual deviant and may run rampant in some fields of religion. No, you are not his first victim. But you could be his last if you assert your rights.
    Last edit by barlat on Mar 21 : Reason: Forgot to add last comment.
  9. by   LuckyGirlSuze
    Thank you all for your responses. I appreciate you.

    Here is my latest update -
    HR asked me to write ANOTHER statement regarding what happened between the chaplain and I and also what has occurred since then (the feelings of anxiety, not wanting to be around him, etc).
    I submitted my statement on 3/14 to HR (dates, times, places, people, very specific).
    Again, HR has been dodging me (first she said she was having trouble getting in touch with my "leadership" and then she unexpectedly had to go out of town). HR PROMISED she would get back to be by 3/23. Nothing.... Radio silence.

    barlat - I agree I am showing signs of PTSD and my psychiatrist thinks so too.

    At this point, I want to scream, yell, call the local news and get a lawyer. I want to tell everyone everything and also stop pretending that I am okay.
    BUT - I want to work. I don't want anyone to ever question my ability to take care of patients and families. My work has not suffered since I moved to the inpatient hospice. In fact, I think I am thriving there (when I know that horrible chaplain is not on-call).
    How can I scream for help and still be considered a competent nurse?
    When men get angry, they are considered powerful... when women get angry, we are considered hysterical and unreasonable.
    Can I tell my employer I have PTSD and still be considered a "safe" nurse?
  10. by   Kaisu
    My honest, knee jerk reaction - Get a lawyer and sue. That organization and it's policies and procedures are out of date with no motivation to change until it hits them right in the pocket book.
    I am sorry for what you are going through. It gets better.
  11. by   Here.I.Stand
    Of course you can suffer and still be a competent/safe professional. Feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs if you like...I'm not trying to hijack your thread, but to help you maybe not feel alone.

    I'm planning to get some help myself actually... more than a year ago, I watched a historical documentary as I do frequently -- my Netflix watch list is nearly ALL historical docu's! Well a maybe 30-60 second reenactment is still torturing me. I'm not a weak or unstable person; I am sensitive to the suffering of others, but no stranger to horrible mental images. I would one day love to work with the VOMedical for crying out loud (you can Google or YouTube them if you want).

    I have literally thought to myself "if it was possible to ACTUALLY 'give my right arm' to unsee/unhear THOSE 30-60 seconds, I would consider it." In the past week I have had two full-on panic attacks, remembering the actors' voices and dialogue -- even seeing the font and color of the subtitles (dialogue not in English.) I keep imagining one of my children -- the same age as the child in the story. I can't even sleep without pharmaceutical help.

    You too -- are a strong person and a competent professional, despite struggling in this area. In fact, you RECOGNIZED what you needed to do, to do your job and protect yourself at the same time -- you got a new position. Your harasser has been allowed to follow you into your safe place... and HR is neglecting their duty.

    I ABSOLUTELY think that you would be justified in reporting this snake. Think about it... asking for oral sex at work is not normal behavior. I am nearly positive that he has harassed other women -- SOMEHOW he has gone from zero to comfortable-asking-for-oral. That is not a one-step transition!

    You deserve to feel safe at work.

    If nothing else, how would you advise a patient struggling with PTSD sx? Would you think less of them as a functioning member of society? You need to extend that same compassion to yourself. (((hugs)))
  12. by   LuckyGirlSuze
    Here.I.Stand - Thank you for your honesty. Your post really did help me put my feelings in perspective and I appreciate your uplifting words of support.

    Here is the very latest update - I met with a lawyer today. He instructed me to tell HR that they have until Friday at noon to come to me with a resolution or I will be letting my lawyer decide what further action to take.
    I sent the email this morning and HR responded within 5 minutes and promised me (AGAIN!) a "resolution" this week.
    I cannot tell you how good it felt to feel like someone was on my side (even if it was a lawyer!).
    I did not get into nitty-gritty details with the lawyer because he said we are going to give the company one more shot to make it right (and maybe p00p their pants a little with the threat of legal action).
    If I do not receive an appropriate resolution by the end of this week, I have a standing appointment next week with the lawyer to make a battle plan. I am REALLY hoping I do not have to make a battle plan.
    I will keep you updated.

    Thank you again.
  13. by   hppygr8ful
    Quote from Kaisu
    My honest, knee jerk reaction - Get a lawyer and sue. That organization and it's policies and procedures are out of date with no motivation to change until it hits them right in the pocket book.
    I am sorry for what you are going through. It gets better.
    I agree that filing a lawsuit may be the best action - it likely will not go to court and you may even be able to waive a financial settlement in lieu of this person being disciplined. Be warned though that during a lawsuit your employer will do all sorts of things to undermine your character. In some cases (my attorney sister has informed me) you must show an on-going pattern of harassment and a single incident may not be sufficient to prove harassment. Also your employer in under no legal obligation to tell you what if any discipline the chaplain was subjected too. Other than to say that he will not be sent to a location where you are working. Your employer should have a written policy on sexual harassment so it would do well to get a copy and read it. Even if they plan to fire the chaplain it may take months to accomplish this as he too can sue them if he wants to and if they want a clean termination they may be talking to other nurses who may have had similar experiences, again not something they have to inform you of.

    Concentrate on getting your mental health in order. Hire an attorney if you can afford one as the attorney can get access to the information that your employer is not required to give you. If your job performance has not been affected keep working. If you feel you cannot continue working for this employer start looking for another job. Be your own best advocate - Sexual harassment is a huge issue right now and you employer may be stepping carefully to make sure that all their I's are dotted and T's crossed before taking action.

    Hppy
  14. by   ruby_jane
    Please let us know how this turns out. Hoping the best for you.

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