What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase which means “something for something” or “this for that.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens in a workplace when a boss, manager, or other authority figure suggests that he or she will give the employee something in return for that employee complying with some sort of sexual demand. Usually, in these types of scenarios, a boss will offer a promotion or raise if the employee is willing to grant a sexual request. In other cases, the authority figure will demand a sexual favor by threatening to fire or file a grievance of some kind if the employee does not comply. This type of workplace behavior is obviously not to be tolerated. It is actions like this that create incredibly stressful work environments and no one should have to suffer this kind of treatment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is sneaky and a power manipulation of the highest order. It can be covered up with ease. While employees are often the victims of this form of harassment, job applicants may also suffer from having the hiring decision hinge on the acceptance of a sexual demand. Employees or job applicants do have legal recourse if they ever experience quid pro quo sexual harassment. A claimant has 180 days to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In order to bring a successful complaint, the individual must be able to prove:

  • He or she was an employee or job applicant with the company;
  • The company employee who engaged in the harassment made unsolicited and unwanted sexual advances or behavior of a sexual nature;
  • The company employee who was the alleged harasser was in a supervisory role for the company at the time of the incident or incidents in question;
  • The alleged harasser conditioned a job opportunity or employment benefit on acceptance of the sexual advances; and
  • The conduct of the company supervisor resulted in direct harm to the complainant.

If the person bringing the complaint is successful, he or she is eligible to recover compensatory damages. These damages may include:

  • Lost wages
  • Loss of benefits
  • Loss of employment opportunities.

A damage award may also include compensation for emotional suffering. In particularly egregious cases, an award for punitive damages may be made. Punitive damages are intended to further discourage a person from further engaging in this type of behavior. While punitive damages are not often awarded, they still might be depending on the specific circumstances involved in the case.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is particularly anxiety-inducing because it not only makes a person feel incredibly uncomfortable, but he or she may also feel like their very livelihood is at stake. Company managers have a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace for employees and foster positive and productive relationships. To take advantage of a position of power like engaging in quid pro quo sexual harassment is not right. That is why there are legal protections and recourses for this kind of behavior. Contact Fairfax Law Firm today and learn about your options if you have suffered from quid pro quo sexual harassment. Our employment attorneys will determine whether or not you can file a claim.