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Sexual Harassment Involving Doctors and Patients

Civil Rights Lawyers Representing Residents of New York City

The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits sexual harassment in public accommodations. Sexual harassment that is prohibited could consist of threats, intimidation, unwelcome sexual overtures or gestures, derogatory comments or epithets, coercion, or violence. Generally, doctors and the places that employ them are public accommodations and subject to the New York City Human Rights Law. If you are concerned about sexual harassment involving doctors and patients, you should consult the New York City sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

Sexual Harassment Involving Doctors and Patients

Most people think of physical touching, assault, groping, and sexualized remarks when they think of sexual harassment. A doctor who inappropriately touches, assaults, gropes, or makes sexualized remarks to you may be violating the New York City Human Rights Law. Moreover, sexual harassment can involve not just actions that appear to be driven by sexual desire but also those that involve treating a patient differently from other similar patients based on gender.

Sexual harassment against a transgender patient is also prohibited. It would likely be considered actionable sexual harassment for your doctor to use anti-gay or anti-lesbian epithets or other sexual epithets against you. No doctor should refuse to treat you based on your sex, or harass you while you are having a physical or other examination. Under the New York City Human Rights Law, you are supposed to be permitted to use single-sex facilities, including bathrooms and programs consistent with your gender, regardless of which sex you were assigned at birth, your anatomy, your medical history, your appearance, or the sex indicated on your identification. Your doctor should not make offensive remarks about your gender identification or stop you from using a particular facility because you do not conform to sex stereotypes associated with the sex that you were assigned at birth or that shows on your medical records.

A doctor can be sued individually for sexual harassment under the New York City Human Rights Law. In some cases, it is appropriate for an attorney to bring common law causes of action against the doctor; causes of action that could be appropriate include assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. Any doctor who aids, abets, incites, compels, or coerces another doctor to perpetrate sexual harassment may also be liable under the New York City Human Rights Law.

Additionally, a doctor's employer may be vicariously or directly liable for damages based on a doctor's sexual harassment of a patient. Under the New York City Human Rights Law at section 8-107 (13) (a), an employer can be liable for an unlawful discriminatory practice based on its employee or agent's conduct if it violates provisions against gender discrimination in public accommodations. In one case involving sexual harassment by a doctor, the court rejected the employer's argument that under case law related to respondeat superior (which applies to common law claims), employers are not responsible for the intentional torts of their employees.

If you believe that your doctor has sexually harassed you, you can report the doctor to the state medical board. When the harassment involves violence, such as assault or battery, you should also file a report with the police. In some cases, these reports proceed to criminal prosecution, but even if your case does not proceed in this manner, you can pursue civil remedies. You can report sexual harassment by a doctor to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which has the power to impose civil penalties.

You may also wish to consult an attorney about pursuing a civil lawsuit against the doctor or doctors, as well as possibly the medical practice or hospital where the doctor works. Relief that may be available through a civil lawsuit alleging sexual harassment includes punitive damages and injunctive relief. Injunctive relief could involve an order that the doctor undergo sexual harassment training, that the doctor refrain from any further inappropriate conduct, or that the employer institute a stronger anti-sexual harassment policy.

Discuss Your Options with a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in New York City

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients with many different kinds of sexual harassment lawsuits, including claims based on sexual harassment involving doctors and patients. If you believe that you have been affected by discrimination or harassment, contact us at (833) 529-3476 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle litigation in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and New Jersey.

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