Sexual harassment in the medical profession: Legal and ethical responsibilities
Mathews, Benjamin P. & Bismark, Marie M. (2015) Sexual harassment in the medical profession: Legal and ethical responsibilities. Medical Journal of Australia, 203(4), pp. 189-192.
Sexual harassment of women in medicine in the Australian medical profession is a serious problem which presents substantial legal, ethical and cultural questions for the medical profession. Women have enforceable legal rights to gender equality and freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace. Both individual offenders and their employers face significant legal consequences for sexual harassment. Individual medical practitioners and employers need to understand their legal and ethical responsibilities in this context. This article analyses four areas of legal liability in every State and Territory which apply to individual offenders and employers: criminal law, discrimination law, civil law, and contract law. It also analyses ethical duties owed by doctors towards their colleagues under professional regulatory schemes. The analysis shows that individual doctors and their employers have clear legal and ethical obligations to prevent sexual harassment. On legal and ethical grounds, medical employers, professional colleges and associations, and regulators need to improve gender equality and professional culture in medicine. A five-step model for cultural change is proposed.
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