Sexual Harassment, Misconduct Also Plague UC Medical Centers

Roughly 40 of the 113 records UC released detailing investigations and findings related to allegations of sex-based discrimination or misconduct involved UC medical centers and hospitals.  (Getty Images)

The University of California operates five nationally recognized medical centers known for their breakthrough research, medical specialties and doctor-training programs.

But documents released last week show sexual harassment and misconduct are not only plaguing UC campuses, but also the system’s medical centers and hospitals.

One of these is UC Davis Medical Center.

Of the 113 records UC released under a public records request filed by KQED and other media outlets, nine out of 13 sexual misconduct and harassment cases at UC Davis took place at its medical center located off campus in Sacramento.

According to the records, the harassers were mostly co-workers, but some were supervisors -- including doctors and nurses.

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The allegations -- none of which were made by students -- range from inappropriate comments to unwanted touching.

UC Davis
UC Davis (Christian Ostrosky/Flickr)

UC Davis has policies barring employees from engaging in behavior that constitutes sexual harassment or violence, and even has mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees.

“Lives are being severely impacted and in some cases even ruined by this behavior,” said Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford University law professor who helped to overhaul that university’s sexual assault prevention polices. “Colleges and universities have had every opportunity to voluntarily do better, and they’re not doing it.”

Roughly 40 of the 113 records UC released detailing investigations and findings related to allegations of sex-based discrimination or misconduct involved UC medical centers and hospitals. The records spanned a nearly 3½-year period between January 2013 and April 2016.

The situation is raising questions about whether officials are doing enough to prevent abuse at the medical facilities, which are often detached from the main campuses, have their own CEOs and a different work culture.

UC Davis spokeswoman Kim Hale says the university is taking action under a new a systemwide office in charge of prevention efforts.

“We are continuously working toward an environment that is free of any form of harassment or discrimination,” Hale said. “When there is one case, it’s too many. We’re working to make that zero.”

Even so, advocates working to prevent sexual harassment say the only way to ensure real transparency is if the state requires colleges and universities to provide public reports every year.

A bill that would have made that happen was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

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