Patient’s complaint of sexual harassment dismissed

Date: Aug 08, 2018

Increased attention to sexual harassment in recent years across the globe brings up many questions, including what constitutes sexual harassment or abuse. It’s often considered better practice to believe a victim rather than writing off their complaints, as the repercussions for not listening to them are worse than if they are lying.

A sexual harassment complaint was recently dismissed by the Civil and Administrative Tribunal that came from a patient who says his nurse sexually harassed him while he was in her care.

A recent complaint of sexual harassment from a patient

In late 2017, a man who was a patient in a forensic hospital complained to the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board that a female nurse had sexually harassed him while he was there. He claims that the nurse had opened the shower door while he was showering to give him his medications, and looked inappropriately at his genitals. When he requested that she leave, she did, according to the man.

There was apparently a witness to the occurrence – another patient who was in the next room. The man says that the other patient confirmed that they’d witnessed what had happened.

The female nurse denied that the event took place. She says she didn’t open the shower door while he was showering, and that she’d given him his medication that same day while he was in the dining area of the facility. The NSW Police had already investigated the complaint from the man, according to the nurse, and they found that no further investigation was required.

Reasons for the dismissal

The President of the Anti-Discrimination Board to which the man had complained had already denied the accusation because it was lacking in sustenance.

The judge noted that in order for his  sexual harassment complaint to have succeeded, he would have needed to prove that:

  • He was engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct during the course of receiving services from the nurse.
  • The circumstances were that in which a reasonable person in the nurse’s position would have anticipated that the other party would feel humiliated or intimidated.

Arguments were then presented that the man didn’t properly identify what services he was receiving from the nurse, and that he’d made similar complaints in the past toward other nurses who had been providing services to him. Those previous claims hadn’t been substantiated.

The man also didn’t sufficiently persuade the Tribunal that the evidence from his supposed witness (the other patient) would help his case at all.

Because the judge didn’t think the man’s complaints could be substantiated, he refused the leave to proceed with the complaints of sexual harassment.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment, our lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are able to assist you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.