What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
Workplace Sexual Favors & Demands Are Never Legal
Your ability to get and keep a job and to advance in the company where you work should be based on your ability and hard work alone, not on your willingness to provide sexual favors. Unfortunately, such demands aren’t uncommon. They’re also a form of illegal sexual harassment called “quid pro quo,” and the team of lawyers at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP is dedicated to stopping it.
What Does Quid Pro Quo Mean?
Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning “something for something.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances.
When Does Quid Pro Quo Happen?
In the workplace, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when employment decisions like hiring, promotions, raises, work assignments, recommendations, and performance evaluations are based on your willingness to submit to the sexual demands made by someone who holds a position of power (like a manager, supervisor, or other person holding a superior position to yours in the company).
Example of Quid Pro Quo
A supervisor promises an employee a raise if she will go out on a date with him or tells an employee she will be fired if she doesn’t sleep with him.
Only individuals with supervisory authority over a worker can engage in quid pro quo harassment, since it requires the harasser to have the authority to grant or withhold job benefits.
Did I Experience Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
Quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred if your boss or another higher-up in your company has indicated that your job in some way depends on your submitting sexual advances, regardless of whether or not you actually yielded to those demands.
Only one instance of quid pro quo sexual harassment is required for you to bring a lawsuit against the company. Furthermore, it is illegal for an employer to fire you for suing your company for sexual harassment, even if you do not win the lawsuit. This is called retaliation, and your San Diego quid pro quo attorney may be able to help you litigate this issue as well.
Other real-life examples of this type of sexual harassment include:
- Your manager offers you a promotion in exchange for sex.
- Your boss threatens to fire you if you reject his or her sexual demands.
- You are demoted after refusing sexual involvement with a supervisor, manager, or employer.
- Your benefits are withheld — or threatened to be — if you refuse sexual advances.
- Participation in desirable work projects is made contingent on sexual favors.
- Your employee evaluations are based on your cooperation with sexual demands.
Other Types of Sexual Harassment
Many people associate workplace sexual harassment at work with quid pro quo harassment only, as they believe that a harasser must be their boss or another authority figure. In reality, you may experience another type of sexual harassment, hostile work environment harassment.
Sexually offensive conduct or what is commonly termed “locker room humor” should not have any place in the workplace. There is a difference between acceptable kidding around and unacceptable sexual innuendo and comments. When conduct at your workplace crosses the line, it can constitute hostile work environment harassment. That requires either pervasive conduct or an isolated instance of highly offensive behavior.
If you believe that you are in a hostile work environment, report it to your employer immediately. They have the chance to stop the conduct, and if they don’t, you can take legal action.
All Genders Can Experience Sexual Harassment
Whether you identify as male, female, non-binary, or any other appropriate term, you can experience sexual harassment in the workplace. While one might naturally think of a male boss harassing a female employee, sexual harassment can take many forms. A man can experience sexual harassment from his female boss, or a male can harass another male due to a lack of gender conformity.
What would be quid pro quo harassment for a male boss to say or do something to a female employee is no different between a female boss and a male employee. There are no gender-based excuses for sexual harassment. Further, just because a person does not intend to act upon their comments does not mean they do not make other people uncomfortable.
If you have experienced a situation in which you felt uncomfortable due to the sexual comments, advances, or other affronts of any member of your workplace, whatever their gender, you might have the right to take legal action. The law requires workplaces free of harassment regardless of gender or sexuality.
Sexual Harassment Can be Indirect and Even Online
Most people in the modern world have social media accounts, and when it comes to the workplace, it is sometimes the norm that you share your profiles with your coworkers and associates. This provides these individuals with a window into your private life that you should consider before granting access.
However, we are free to share our personal lives with whomever we like, and when it comes to coworkers, the decision is purely personal. However, if a coworker, associate, or boss uses access to your social media accounts to make you feel uncomfortable or objectified in the workplace, you could experience sexual harassment.
While friendly and positive comments are normal, comments on your photos or social media posts that have an undertone of sexuality or suggestiveness can be offensive. Sometimes coworkers don’t understand this, so tell them that they crossed the line.
If the conduct continues, you might seek legal relief, especially if it harms your position or ability to advance on the job. If you are not comfortable, talk with an employment attorney to discuss your case.
Retaliation for Sexual Harassment Complaints
Many employees speak up and lodge complaints regarding quid pro quo sexual harassment – only to find they lose their jobs or suffer another adverse work effect. This type of retaliation for making a complaint is another violation of anti-discrimination and harassment laws, and anyone who experiences retaliation should discuss the matter with a sexual harassment attorney.
Retaliation can take many forms – it could be the threat that your boss issued when you refused sexual advances or any other type of adverse employment action.
Some forms of retaliation can include:
- Denial of a raise or promotion you deserved
- Reduction of hours
- Undesirable shift changes
- Demotion or pay decrease
- Additional harassment
- Unwarranted poor performance reviews
- Disciplinary action
If you complained of sexual harassment and experienced anything similar to the above, discuss it with your attorney as soon as possible.
Your Employment Law Attorney Advocates for Your Best Interests
Going through sexual harassment in the workplace can be embarrassing, and you might feel hesitant about standing up for your rights and going through the necessary steps to collect the compensation you deserve. You might worry that some of the same people who participated in the harassment might be involved in the process.
When you hire an employment law attorney, they stand up for your rights for you and handle all communications with the opposing party, their attorneys, and any other parties that might be involved. This removes the stress and concern from your day-to-day life so that you can focus on moving past your negative experience while your attorney works to ensure that you receive the fullest possible relief for your situation.
When you are in a situation that makes it impossible to return to work or negatively impacts your job, you have important legal rights. You might not know exactly what you deserve because of complicated laws. In some situations, you might seek lost income, compensation for emotional distress, and more. Your experienced employment law attorney will have the knowledge you need to accurately identify what relief is available to you and will know how to begin the process.
Reach out to a local sexual harassment attorney to discuss your case. This will help you understand whether you experienced unlawful harassment and your best course of action. Never wait to reach out for legal assistance. Our firm has compassionate attorneys who understand how devastating sexual harassment can be, and we commit ourselves to stand up for the rights of employees like you.
How to Win This Type of Sexual Harassment Claim
Before initiating a sexual harassment lawsuit, you will need to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission to obtain a “right to sue” letter.
To win a quid pro quo sexual harassment case, you will need to present good evidence that the harasser made unwanted sexual advances as a condition of your receiving some specific benefits connected with your job or for avoiding some negative action (like termination or demotion). The standard of proof in California is a preponderance of the evidence, which means the evidence shows it is more likely than not that the behavior occurred.
The legal elements you need to provide include:
- You were employed by the person you are accusing or applied to that person for a job, or were acting in a business relationship covered by a contract with that person;
- The person made unwanted sexual advances to you or engaged in some form of unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature;
- It was made clear that job benefits were dependent upon your accepting that person’s sexual advances or conduct, or that decisions affecting your employment would be made based on your acceptance or rejection of the harasser’s sexual conduct or advances;
- When the harassment occurred, the alleged harasser was your supervisor or agent for the company where you worked or were applying; and
- You suffered harm as a direct result of the harassment.
Possible Legal Remedies for Quid Pro Quo Harassment
The following can result from a successful claim against an employer:
- Reinstatement to your position if you were discharged
- An injunction to stop the harassment
- Monetary compensation for lost wages, benefits, and employment opportunities
- Monetary compensation for other damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional anguish
- Punitive damages intended to punish the defendant or deter the company from allowing the harassment to occur in the future
Haeggquist & Eck, LLP Can Be Your Legal Advocate
Haeggquist & Eck, LLP will help you file your complaint with the appropriate agency and institute a lawsuit on your behalf. We are often able to settle out of court, but when necessary, we are always ready and willing to try your valid case to a jury. Don’t delay, because legal time limits for filing apply.
Employment Law Services
Why Clients Choose Us
- Free Case Evaluations
- You Don’t Pay Unless We Win
- Top 100 National Trial Lawyer
- Exclusively Represent Employees & Consumers