Thursday, August 18, 2022

How do you respond when your employees are threatened?

Boston Children's Hospital has a scary situation on its hand. Its hospital staff has received aggressive phone calls, emails, and death threats. It's all in reaction to inaccurate information posted on conservative websites and shared across social media about its transgender surgery program.

The allegations are that its medical staff performs hysterectomies on girls under the age of 18. In reality, the hospital performs hysterectomies on patients age 18 and older, but not on children.

Boston Children's began treating transgender youth in 1998 and opened the first trans health program in the U.S. for adolescents in 2007.

In a statement (as reported by WBUR), the hospital said the following:
We are deeply concerned by these attacks on our clinicians and staff fueled by misinformation and a lack of understanding and respect for our transgender community. We are working with law enforcement to protect our clinicians, staff, patients, families, and the broader Boston Children's community and hold the offenders accountable.
In addition to supporting and reassuring its staff, contacting and cooperating with law enforcement, and making public statements in support of its employees and its trans health program, Boston Children's also scrubbed its website of all information about the health care providers who work in that practice and provided trans health services. It also provided training to employees on how to respond to harassment and threats. 

If I was Boston Children's legal counsel, I'd recommend all of the above. I'd also increase security within the facility and on the hospital's campus, monitor all incoming emails, phone calls, and snail mail (including packages), and offer security to at-risk employees at their homes and during their commutes. (For the record, I have no idea whether the hospital implemented any safety measures other than what's set forth in its statement to the media.)

In today's polarized and dangerous environment, we must take all threats seriously. While there exists no foolproof way to protect your workplace against this disgusting hate, these preventative steps send the right message to your employees that you take these threats and their safety seriously. They also go a long way to putting you in the best place to deter violence and respond if it occurs.