Wisconsin Sexual Harassment in the Workplace for Healthcare Providers


This training educates healthcare providers on how to recognize, respond, and remove sexual harassment from the workplace.

Sexual harassment in the workplace remains a pervasive issue, impacting not only individual employees but also the overall work environment and organizational effectiveness. For healthcare providers, addressing this issue is particularly critical, given the unique challenges and sensitivities inherent in healthcare settings. Ensuring a safe and respectful workplace is paramount to delivering high-quality patient care and maintaining a positive work culture.

Our course will equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge and tools necessary to identify, prevent, and address sexual harassment effectively. 

What You’ll Learn

  • Defining sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Examples of sexual harassment
  • Characteristics that cannot be discriminated against
  • Forms of workplace harassment
  • What to after witnessing workplace harassment
  • Bystander intervention


Course length: 1 minutes; CEU: 1.

Languages: American English

Key features: Audio narration, learning activity, and post-assessment.

American Medical Compliance is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education to physicians. Our Continuing Medical Education (CME) program is committed to enhancing the knowledge, skills, and professional performance of healthcare providers to improve patient care outcomes. Through high-quality educational activities, we aim to address the identified educational gaps and to support the continuous professional development of our medical community. American Medical Compliance designates this activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. Physicians should only claim this credit for their complete participation in this activity.

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Understanding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment occurs when someone subjects another person to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This behavior becomes harassment when it significantly alters the conditions of an individual’s employment, creating an intimidating, hostile, or abusive working environment. The person must perceive the behavior as unwanted and unsolicited. It can include actions such as inappropriate comments, jokes, or gestures, as well as physical advances or touching. The conduct must have a sexual component. 

This can range from explicit requests for sexual favors to more subtle behaviors like persistent flirting or suggestive remarks. For behavior to be classified as sexual harassment, it must negatively impact the victim’s work environment. This could manifest as feeling unsafe at work, experiencing anxiety or stress, or being unable to perform job duties effectively. This harassment creates a work atmosphere that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

Recognizing Subtle Forms of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment does not only encompass overt sexual advances. It can also include subtle hints or jokes with a sexual context or undertone.

Understanding the wide range of behaviors that constitute sexual harassment is essential for creating a respectful and safe workplace. While explicit sexual advances are a clear form of harassment, it’s important to recognize that more subtle behaviors can be just as harmful. 

Defining Workplace Sexual Harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with the performance of a person’s job or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” This definition highlights the broad scope of behaviors that can constitute harassment, emphasizing the impact on the victim’s work environment and job performance. Understanding this definition is essential for recognizing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. It emphasizes that any unwelcome sexual behavior, whether overt or subtle, that disrupts an individual’s ability to perform their job or creates a hostile work environment, constitutes harassment.

Recognizing Inappropriate Behavior: Sexual Jokes

A sexual joke made in the workplace can constitute sexual harassment if it is unwelcome and creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Even if someone intends them as humor, such jokes can make employees feel uncomfortable and disrespected, impacting their ability to work effectively. Understanding that even seemingly minor comments can contribute to a hostile environment is crucial.

Protected Characteristics Under Federal Law

Federal law prohibits discrimination based on specific characteristics. Some of these include race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, and genetic information.

These protections ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities in the workplace, free from discrimination based on inherent personal characteristics. 

Identifying Potential Harassers

Anyone in the workplace can be a harasser. This includes supervisors or managers, co-workers, clients or customers, vendors or contractors, and any other individuals who interact with employees in a work-related context. Understanding that harassment can come from various sources is crucial for addressing and preventing it effectively. All employees should be aware of this to help maintain a safe and respectful work environment.

Forms of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment generally materializes through four forms. Many people think it is based solely on sexual behavior, but it can also involve sex-related marginalization.

This includes discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, which is equally concerning. Recognizing these various forms is essential for identifying and addressing harassment in all its manifestations, ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace for everyone.

Understanding Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of sexual conduct is used as a basis for employment decision. This type of harassment typically involves a person in a position of authority, such as a supervisor, who offers or withholds job benefits (e.g., promotions, raises, or favorable assignments) in exchange for sexual favors. Recognizing quid pro quo harassment is crucial for maintaining a fair and respectful workplace where all employees are treated based on their merit and performance, not on their compliance with inappropriate demands. 

Clarifying Sexual Harassment Behaviors

Considering the definitions above, many behaviors may be classified as sexual harassment. The objective is to help victims make appropriate distinctions and provide clarity on what constitutes harassment. This is why it is crucial for work teams to discuss and define their workplace culture. The first step is understanding what behaviors are unwanted and discomforting, ensuring everyone knows the boundaries of acceptable conduct and fostering a respectful environment. 

Understanding Transgender Identity

Transgender is a term used to describe individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This identity may involve transitioning to a different gender through medical, legal, or social changes.

Understanding and respecting transgender identities is essential for creating an inclusive and supportive workplace.

Understanding Social Transition

Social. transition refers to the process by which a transgender person begins to live according to their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. This can include changing their name, pronouns, appearance, and the way they present themselves in social situations. Social transition is a significant and personal step that helps individuals align their outward expression with their internal identity, contributing to their overall well-being and authenticity.

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