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Advocacy group to focus on sexual harassment in healthcare

California residents may have followed the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in late 2017 and the #MeToo movement they gave rise to. In January 2018, a group of entertainment industry figures including prominent writers and actors founded a group called Time's Up to address gender-based workplace discrimination. The organization also funds litigation filed against employers by workers who have been discriminated against or harassed due to their gender.

A substantial number of people who have contacted Time's Up about these matters are healthcare workers, and the organization responded on Feb. 28 by announcing that Time's Up Healthcare had been formed to focus specifically on this issue. In a press release, one of the founders of Time's Up pointed out that women account for only 10 percent of healthcare chief executives despite making up 80 percent of the 13 million-person workforce.

When polled at a recent meeting of doctors and other healthcare professionals, 58 percent of female surgeons said that they had been the victim of some sort of sexual harassment during the previous 12 months. Only one in four male surgeons made the same claim. Most of the female surgeons said that they did not report the harassment due to fears of retaliation or stigmatization.

It is not uncommon for the victims of workplace harassment or discrimination to be reluctant to step forward. Attorneys with experience in this area might encourage victims to take action by pointing out that the tide of social opinion has shifted significantly in recent years and their employers now likely have far more to fear from sexual misconduct lawsuits. Attorneys may also help those considering such a legal action to gather evidence that might encourage their employers to settle the matter discretely.

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