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How To Protect Yourself Against a Sexual Harassment Complaint

As male medical professionals we are sexually harassed rather frequently. Society doesn’t consider this to be anything legitimate because you have to be woman to qualify for sexual harassment.

We are told that sexual harassment complaints by women are rarely done under false pretences. From personal experiences, the few awkward situations that I’ve been in, have all been pure bullshit. I’ve never had a sexual harassment filed against me but have come way too close for comfort.

As male medical professionals we have sexual remarks made towards us by female patients, residents, coworkers, and nurses – lots of nurses. But this post isn’t about that. I want to talk about how to protect yourself from a sexual harassment complaint.

I am not trying to be condescending. I just don’t want you to make a mistake which will fuck you forever. So please excuse the bluntness, gentlemen. I promise to inject some tact into future posts.

For the Creeps

I’m assuming that you are not a fucking creep. If you are a creep then you need to figure that shit out for yourself. Don’t be a sexual predator homie – if you got some crazy ass sexual urges then go get a hooker. There, you can live every kind of freaky fantasy you like without losing your job.

If you need to, beat off before work. Maybe rub a few out between patients. Take estrogen. Whatever it takes – curb your urges to be inappropriate and admit if you have a behavioral problem around the opposite sex.

I’m not saying you’re abnormal. You just might have a very visceral reaction with the opposite sex around. You need to control that because even if you think you’re incognito, others sense the heat and they will feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Investigations are Reportable

Remember, even if you know that you are 100% innocent, if an investigation is opened under your name, that’s reportable until the day you die. Let me repeat that, all it takes is a complaint for an investigation to take place and once that investigation is opened, the damage has been done, regardless of what the jury decides.

Prevention

Prevention is key. All men are sexual deviants before the eyes of the public. Just like all doctors are guilty according to the medical board.

Once a woman files that sexual harassment complaint with their supervisor, you are clinically fucked. Good luck getting out of that mess. And remember, you’ll be answering yes to that “investigation” question every time you fill out a new application.

1. Avoid Leadership Roles

By becoming a medical director or the chief of your department – or by taking on any leadership role as a physician – you are increasing your exposure and increasing your risk of a shady sexual harassment claim.

I’m not saying that you should avoid these roles, just understand the risk of it.

2. File a Complaint

I once had a patient come on to me in the exam room. She wasn’t there for anything that needed a physical exam. But once all my sexiness walked in she went into fucking heat. Suddenly she wanted me to look at something on her back and started half undressing and giggling. Wtf!

I got the fuck out of there by giving her an excuse that I needed to check on something. When I returned, I was accompanied by one of my fattest and ugliest. The patient looked at both of us, put on her clothes, and asked for the refill she was there for, initially.

I should have filed a complaint with management. Why? To set the precedence that I don’t tolerate sexual harassment by anyone, not the least of, patients.

Had she later decided to file a complaint in retaliation of me rejecting her, I would have been fucked.

3. Don’t be clueless

What I mean by being aware is that you might be smiling sort of person who tells jokes and is affable. This is great when you’re in good company.

I’ve always been that kind of person at work, minus the joke telling. I was quite friendly with coworkers and staff, never bordering on inappropriate. And then one day, this disaster of a nurse started rubbing my shoulders and trying to rub my head, which I shave – she started making some quasi-sexual remarks while doing it and I had to pretty much jump out of my chair.

Because I was friendly with others, she assumed I would be the same with her. In any other setting it might not have been a big deal – come on to me if you want, touch my shoulders, no biggie. But at work? Hell to the no! I don’t need that kind of target on my back.

So, be friendly but be careful. Since we are surrounded by female nurses, automatically you are going to be considered a flirt. Why? Because a man talking to a woman and laughing with her is considered to be flirting. And why is that? Because the people who wrote the sexual harassment manual ain’t got no game.

4. Don’t Shit Where You Eat

Don’t date anyone from work. If you do, at least be sure you guys don’t work in the same facility. But honestly, there are so many people to date, why do it at work? It’s just risky because something bad could happen. If nothing else, you two might have a big misunderstanding which will be left for the courts to referee.

I have dated from work and it as a terrible idea even though nothing major happened.

5. Don’t Share Bedroom Secrets

If you talk about your sex life or your dating life then that’s an invitation for others to do the same. And though 99% of your nurses and colleagues are intelligent and responsible individuals, you don’t want to come across that 1% who will take it too far.

A sexual harassment doesn’t always start with you groping a saggy boob. It’s a smile, a funny comment, a sexy comment, maybe a light touch… then it spirals down from there.

6. Don’t Hang with Trash

I know, this is mean, but some women don’t know how to set boundaries. What you might consider a simple conversation is an invitation for them to behave like goddamn fools.

They might suddenly decide to start rubbing your shoulders. And since everyone knows her reputation, you just got pegged as “that” guy.

7. Lawyer Up

If you are hit with a sexual harassment complaint, do not reply. For the love of god, don’t reply and don’t react. Get a lawyer. A criminal lawyer. Don’t have one, that’s a shame!

If you’re a medical professional then you should have the cell phone of a criminal lawyer in your cell. I do. It starts with 503. I got his number from a lawyer friend. If I’m stopped by a cop, if I’m dealing with a testy situation, if someone accuses me of sexual harassment then I’m calling him right away.

This isn’t sensationalism, it’s survival. Hopefully I’ll never have to use it.

8. Date Selectively

Let’s say you have an ugly breakup with a woman. Things didn’t go well, you don’t want to see her anymore. What’s stopping her from calling your job and claiming that you sexually harassed her or that you sexually harass your patients?

Don’t date unstable women. And when you decide to break it off then come up with every lie possible to protect your ass. Honesty will not be your friend. “I want to break up with you because you’re an unstable person”… no! “I have major family trouble going on and I really need to sort things out before I can commit more time to a relationship”… yes!

9. Don’t Treat women the way you treat another man

You joke around with homies, you high-five your buddies, you make raunchy remarks, you comment on someone attractive, and you might hug and touch your male colleagues.

That is not how you can safely deal with women at work or in other social circumstances. Doing so may never create any problems for you but it certainly will put you at risk.

I don’t treat patients like family or a loved one. I treat patients like customers who can sue my ass out from under me. As a man, I would suggest treating women with the same prudence.

10. Understand Vocabulary

Your definition of sexual harassment is different from the woman who files the sexual harassment complaint. And everyone, but you, gets to decide which definition will be accepted.

There is no gold standard test to rule in or rule out a sexual harassment. You don’t think a willing lawyer can find other women whom you’ve interacted with in your life to say something negative about you?

A very intelligent female physician colleague came to me and complained about how she was sexually harassed by one of her male nurses. She then went on to tell me that he was trying to show this doctor where the patient had an abscess on his neck, so he reached and touched the back of this doctor’s ear. That fucking predator!

11. Write it Down

If you ever experience a shitty event at work, write it down. Create an e-document which will have a digital time/date stamp. Doing so will allow you to at least have a narrative of the situation exactly when it happened.

I had this hideous PA claim that I harassed (not sexually) her because I was trying to get her fired for being end-stage incompetent. But she was a union PA and protected on every level.

I was the idiot tasked with firing her by my supervisors. This was when I was oblivious to how low some professionals can sink. I gave her feedback during a clinic session instead of doing so with her union rep and she used that as an excuse to say that I was harassing her.

12. Be Honest with Yourself

As men, we are raised to be forward with women. It’s all welcome until someone isn’t comfortable with it. But admit that there are some times when you might be excessively forward. Admit that some things you say might be in excess.

I don’t want to make my female coworkers feel uncomfortable. I have no idea what shit they’ve been through in their life. Maybe they are being sexually abused in their current relationship or had childhood trauma. I might be setting that fuse off because of the way I talk or behave.

Fuck, maybe my ugly mug resembles that of her rapist or abuser.

So, tone it down whenever possible. And if it’s not possible, because you’re just a fucking creeper, do telemedicine. I wrote a great how-to for Teladoc and one for Just Answer. I’ll gladly take your money and, in return, I’ll keep your ass out of jail.

13. Drunk Texting

Are you a drunk texter? Or an Ambien texter? Whatever you might be, if you have a hard time controlling your fingers when lit, it would be best to not even put your female coworker’s cell in your phone.

One of my ex’s hired a male nurse for her practice and she’d get drunk sexual texts from the guy a few times a week. He was a great employee and she had thick skin but if this was any other place, he would have been shredded.

14. Flirting

There are all ranges of flirting and some of us dudes are used to talking to women in a flirtatious manner. There might be no secondary intention, just the way we talk, but it can come across as sexually intimidating.

The fact that you have a penis is sexually intimidating enough, then you open your mouth and now you are a major threat to certain individuals.

15. Don’t Comment on an attractive patient

Many in our society can’t separate beauty and sexuality. Much like they can’t separate nudity and sex. These same individuals will hear you comment on how attractive a female patient is and assume you want to put your D in her V.

It’s not just your female coworkers here, often your male coworkers, with whom you’re sharing your astute observations, feel the same. Just don’t comment on how attractive someone is – skip it. Jot it down and write it in your journal that night.

16. Be wary of sexual instigators

That same nurse supervisor who drops sexual innuendos and makes otherwise inappropriate remarks, will hang your ass if you say anything similar.

Remember, every woman you deal with could be a potential rape survivor or have been kept in a basement as a sex slave or whatever the worst fucking scenario is that you can imagine. The words they utter might be okay in their minds but as soon as a man says anything similar, you are a sexual predator, you are an attacker, a sexual harasser.

17. Don’t stay late with a woman alone

If you’re the last male doctor in the clinic and left with only one female nurse or coworker then your ass better be in DEFCON 3. Your career is one complaint away from getting flushed down the toilet.

You have no idea what’s going through her mind. You don’t know her circumstances. Her crazy fucking ex or her childhood trauma or whatever else is going on in her life. If you become the victim of an accusation of hers, you have no way of defending yourself because you don’t have witnesses.

18. Have witnesses

Don’t be caught alone with a patient in the room for too long. Don’t be caught with a female nurse alone. You want witnesses around – other eyes who can testify otherwise.

You say that a female patient would never file a sexual harassment complaint because you have no ill intentions whatsoever? Get a fucking clue brother. Your character as a person, your intentions, and your hard work got nothing to do with the sexual harassment she could file if she doesn’t get what she wants. I know this from first-hand experience.

Remember, once you are accused of sexual harassment you are 100% guilty – that’s the end of that. Sure, you can go to court, get a lawyer, publish a statement. But you are fucked.

19. It’s not just her…

“Oh but Dr. Mo, you’re such a pessimist! You have no idea how sweet and progressive and intelligent my nurse is!”

Who do you think is more likely to file a sexual harassment complaint? The intelligent, strong-willed, progressive RN or the shy, half-illiterate MA?

And it’s not just her. She might go home to her partner or friend and talk about how you and her work late together all the time, taking care of business long after everyone leaves. Then her friend puts a thought in her head that “what if this guy tries to rape you?! he has a penis, you know? A penis!!” 

A male colleague was doing a pre-op exam on a female patient. The topic of keloids came up. She said she had a biopsy spot near the hip which she thought could be a keloid. He asked her to show him the spot. She did. Everything was fine. 2 years later – 2…years….later – she had a conversation with her boyfriend who said that it was totally inappropriate for the doctor have looked at that part of her body without a chaperone. A sexual harassment was filed by the patient and my colleague is still dealing with the medical board regarding this matter.

20. Find out the gossip

What do the nurses and your coworkers say behind your back? This isn’t easy to find out but you can get a clue if you befriend one of the gossip queens or kindly ask one of the more popular doctors on your floor.

You want to know if your nurses talk shit behind your back like:

  • “Dr. Mo spends forever in the room when the patient is cute”
  • “He’s so different with attractive patients” 
  • “He always agrees to a pap exam when the patient is cute”
  • “Dr. Mo and that nurse always go talking in his room”
  • “Dr. Mo always goes to the female doctors when he has a question”
  • “Dr. Mo sniffs the speculum during the pap exam”
  • “Dr. Mo stares at breasts all the time”
21. Look, don’t stare

Chances are that as a man you had a shitty father figure who worked and earned money and gave you no real paternal education. Your mother, likely, taught you to be a “man” and highly influenced you to be a borderline chauvinist.

So you got nobody teaching you how to be a man, safely, in public. Here is some advice which might help – look but don’t stare. Talking to a pretty woman? Drop your eye contact after 1-2 seconds. Got 2 giant boobs in your face? Don’t even look but as soon as you see them, look away. Junk in the trunk walking away from you right in your line of sight? Look briefly but look away even faster, son.

No stare is worse a sexual harassment complaint.

22. If you’re not Fabio

I know, it’s not fair. Your handsome male colleague hits on everything that moves and they melt from any eye contact from the dude. He could probably grope his female colleagues and they’d giggle.

You, you are ugly. It’s okay, not a judgement, you just aren’t fabio. In the world of sexual harassment, everything is objective. Unless you are so irresistible that even god blushes when you get out of bed nekked, keep your game in your pants.

5 replies on “How To Protect Yourself Against a Sexual Harassment Complaint”

It’s sad that a post like this has to even be written but it is necessary.

Luckily radiology mostly allows me to do my thing in isolation in a darkened room. But even in a specialty like that there can still be traps.

That is insane about your colleague getting hit with one 2 yrs later.

Having an MD behind your name also increases the size of the target on your back

Ain’t that the truth, Xrayvsn.

It’s about time someone put it out there so blunt and real.

Thanks for the post. Hopefully, it will save someone some serious pain.

“sniffs the speculum”…..Holy shit! LMFAO

Good stuff here, appreciate the bluntness. I battle this on almost a daily basis

The problem is that we don’t know what is excess and what is appropriate. We don’t get to draw the line and your nurses flirt with you on a daily basis. Sure, I’m not gonna be cracking sexual jokes or making sexual comments about someone but it’s never those blatant circumstances. It’s being in a room with a female patient alone, it’s a group all joking around together and someone taking one word you said as excess.
I’m not sure what the solution is, it’s certainly unpleasant to be a target on the floor.

Hahah, this was entertaining (and sadly, likely very true) to read, even as a female going into medicine.

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