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.
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.
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