Quid pro quo harassment: “Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase that you may be familiar with. In plain English, it means “something for something.” You can use this specific term in a variety of contexts. However, it typically refers to claims of sexual harassment when it is used in the workplace. In actuality, hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment are the two sorts of workplace harassment claims covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Such sexual harassment often occurs when a boss demands sexual favors from a worker in return for a job perk like a raise, improved working conditions, a promotion, etc.
In addition to being illegal under Title VII, quid pro quo sexual harassment can affect anyone at work, regardless of gender.
What does “harassment for a price” mean?
Quid pro quo (this in exchange for that) happens when a boss or director, for example, requests sexual favors in return for something favorable (such as a promotion, pay raise, etc.) or to avoid something adverse (such as termination, demotion, etc.),
Illustrations of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
The term “quid pro quo” (Latin for “this for that”) refers to circumstances at work where an employee’s or job applicant’s acceptance or rejection of sexual approaches or activities of a sexual nature serves as the foundation for choices affecting their employment. These are some instances of this form of harassment:-
- An employer who requests sexual favors in exchange for promotion, advancement, or opportunities;
- A manager who makes sexual favor demands and threats to dismiss, transfer, demote, or otherwise negatively impact an employee’s employment; and
- A manager who promises or gives a raise or promotion to a worker in exchange for actual or anticipated sexual favors.
Quid pro quo harassment: what constitutes a claim?
A claimant of such harassment (the plaintiff in a case) must be able to demonstrate each of the following components to a jury in order to establish sexual harassment of the quid pro quo variety:-
- The plaintiff worked for company X (the defendant) or applied for a position there.
- The plaintiff received unwanted sexual advances from the alleged harasser, an officer or worker of firm X, as well as other unwanted verbal or physical acts of a sexual nature.
- In addition, the plaintiff had to agree to the alleged harasser’s sexual approaches or behavior in order to get certain employment advantages.
- Additionally, based on the plaintiff’s approval or disapproval of the alleged conduct, employment decisions impacting the plaintiff were made.
- The allegedly harassing party was a manager or employee of firm X at the time of the alleged behavior.
- Through the alleged actions, the plaintiff suffered harm.
- The actions of the alleged harasser played a significant role in harming the plaintiff.
Practically speaking, courts want evidence that the sexual harassment at issue led to a substantial employment action, like the plaintiff’s termination or a dubious promotion decision. Even if they ultimately comply with the employer’s unreasonable instructions, the employee may still bring a claim.
How can businesses work to stop sexual harassment that involves payment in exchange?
Companies can take action to reduce the incidence of quid pro quo sexual harassment by putting in place clear policies and, more importantly, upholding them. They are capable of a wide range of measures, including:-
- Establish and uphold a documented equal employment opportunity policy that forbids sexual harassment and retaliation, and make sure that employees can easily access it.
- Create a reporting process for employees who experience sexual harassment in exchange for a favor.
- Establish a method for staff members to confidentially and anonymously submit grievances.
- Respond to complaints immediately and equitably.
- Investigate complaints covertly, and take appropriate disciplinary action.
- The quid pro quo sexual harassment policy should be distributed and posted.
- Have the entire corporate leadership publicly condemn such behavior.
These are only a handful of the many actions that businesses may take to provide a positive work environment for all staff members and to stop harassment before it’s too late.
It is possible for a plaintiff to obtain compensatory damages for lost pay, lost benefits, or even lost employment possibilities. However, in some circumstances, the plaintiff seek damages for emotional anguish and to get their job back. In order to deter the defendant from committing or permitting sexual harassment in the future, punitive damages may also be granted for extremely egregious infractions, but they are not frequently given.
Quid pro quo harassment claims by employees often require them to first file a complaint with a state or federal labor protection agency. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has 180 days to receive claims.
Some FAQs about quid pro quo harassment
The following are some FQAs concerning quid pro quo harassment:-
What Happens If I Complain About Sexual Harassment and Lose My Job?
If you report sexual harassment, the law will protect you. Your employer could be held strictly accountable if they or other workers act in a vindictive manner.
Any time an employee can demonstrate that severe or widespread sexual harassment by a supervisor took place and either caused harm to the company or a hostile work environment, the employee should prevail in a lawsuit.
Even in cases where there was no denial of an employment opportunity, no loss of salary, or no loss of benefits, an employer may still be held accountable, and a plaintiff may still be awarded compensable damages. The plaintiff’s attorney is not required to demonstrate the company’s negligence or specific wrongdoing.
Are threats sufficient to establish quid pro quo harassment?
No. An employee would need to demonstrate, among other things, that their response to their supervisor’s sexual approaches had a detrimental influence on their work in order to establish quid pro quo harassment.
What happens if the employee rejects the manager but the manager does nothing? Does the worker still have a case for retaliatory sexual harassment?
No, often the employee wouldn’t have a quid pro quo.
In fact, quid pro quo harassment typically calls for the employee to face some sort of real, concrete employment repercussion after refusing to comply with their harassing supervisor. Additionally, unfulfilled threats that are never carried out are frequently insufficient. Therefore, despite the fact that instances like this could initially seem to contain quid pro quo harassment, they typically don’t.
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