A Healthy Workplace Precludes Sexual Harrassment

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All employees must be aware of employment laws at the Federal level and in their respective State where practicing. The manager/supervisor is charged with upholding these laws, particularly as they relate to their duties in recruiting, hiring, administering organizational rewards and pay, motivating, disciplining, and terminating employees. However, the requirement to understand some principal laws and procedures to promote a healthy, productive, and safe work environment is borne by all, not just those with a managerial title.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 precludes not only discrimination but also harassment of a fellow employee based upon their gender, as well as their gender identity. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.  This can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex or even their appearance. A hostile work environment is one where there is unwanted sexual behavior or communications in a pattern pervasive enough to disrupt the employee’s work. Prevention is the best tool to address sexual harassment.

A study by Broedel-Zaugg et al demonstrated sexual harassment to be rather prevalent in pharmacy.1 Pharmacists in one state responding to a survey cited many such instances. Over 1/3 of them were reported by men, although women reported a much higher incidence of a hostile work environment.  

Pharmacists should not only uphold workplace laws but act in a professional and responsible manner that minimizes the likelihood of colleagues being injured physically or emotionally.

Additional information about The Basics of Employment Law and Workplace Safety can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Brodel-Zaugg K, Shaffer V, Mawer M, Sullivan D. Frequency and severity of sexual harassment in pharmacy practice in Ohio. J Am Pharm Assoc. 1999;39:677-682.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California