Coyle Browne Law


What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious and concerning issue that affects countless individuals across various industries. One specific type of sexual harassment is quid pro quo harassment. In Latin, quid pro quo means “this for that,” and it refers to situations where an individual’s employment or career opportunities are tied to their submission to unwelcome sexual advances.

Understanding Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment and Its Impacts

Quid pro quo sexual harassment takes place when a supervisor or a higher-status employee demands sexual favors in exchange for career opportunities, promotions, pay increases, or other work-related benefits – or threats of adverse employment actions if the employee doesn’t submit to the request/demand.

Examples of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Here are some real-life examples that demonstrate how quid pro quo sexual harassment may manifest in the workplace:

  • Hiring or promotion contingencies: A supervisor interviews a candidate for an open position and makes it clear during the interview that the candidate will be hired if they agree to perform sexual favors.
  • Threats of negative consequences: A manager threatens to fire, demote, transfer, or otherwise negatively impact an employee’s professional life unless they submit to their demands for sexual favors.
  • Promotions or raises based on sexual favors: A supervisor grants a raise or a promotion to an employee because the employee has provided (or is expected to provide) sexual favors.
  • Favorable assignments as leverage: A director assigns an employee to a high-profile project or offers them a desirable work-related trip (such as a conference in Hawaii), with the expectation that the employee will repay the opportunity by going on a date with them.

Strict Liability For Employers

In California, employers are held strictly liable for any incident involving a supervisor or higher-status employee and the victim. This means that even if the employer is not aware of the harassment, they can still be held legally responsible.

Victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment have several legal options available to them. Remedies include compensatory damages (for lost wages or other expenses), reinstatement to a former position (if the harassment led to the employee being demoted or terminated), and monetary damages to address pain, suffering, or emotional distress caused by the harassment.

Tips to Recognize and Address Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Here are some tips for identifying and dealing with incidents of quid pro quo sexual harassment:

  • Educate yourself: Familiarize yourself with your organization’s policies regarding harassment and discrimination and know your rights as an employee.
  • Trust your instincts: If you feel uncomfortable or coerced into a situation that seems to involve requests for sexual favors in exchange for job benefits, document the incidents (including dates, times, and details) and consider reporting it.
  • Seek support: Speak to a colleague, friend, or family member about your concerns and get their perspective.
  • Report the harassment: Utilize your company’s procedures for reporting harassment. If unsure how to proceed, reach out to your human resources department or a San Diego sexual harassment lawyer for guidance.
  • Know legal resources: Be aware of the legal protections available under both federal and state laws. A consultation with an experienced attorney can help you understand your options.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to seek legal help today. Contact Browne Employment Lawyers to schedule a free consultation

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