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What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

Posted on October 25, 2022 in Personal injury

“Something for something.” That’s the basic form of what Qui Pro Quo means, translated from Latin. The term is famous thanks to TV shows and movies, but how does this apply to harassment in the workplace? Quid pro quo is a term used in employment law for harassment that, in most cases, involves a superior seeking sexual favors from an employee in return for various benefits.

Here, we want to delve into quid pro quo harassment in the workplace, examine some scenarios for this harassment, and explore possible legal options for victims.

Elements of Workplace Quid Pro Quo Harassment

In order to file a harassment claim arising as a result of quid pro quo requests, the plaintiff (the claimant in the lawsuit) needs to prove the following elements:

  1. That they were an employee of the company at the time the incident occurred.
  2. The alleged harasser was an employee or officer with the company and made unwanted sexual advances or engaged in various types of unwanted physical or verbal conduct.
  3. There were various job benefits conditioned, either by conduct or words of the defendant, on the plaintiff accepting the harasser’s conduct or sexual advances OR employment decisions about the plaintiff were made based on the plaintiff’s acceptance or rejection of the harassment.
  4. The harasser must have been a supervisor or agent for the company at the time the incident(s) occurred.
  5. The plaintiff must have suffered harm as a result of the quid pro quo harassment.
  6. The alleged harasser’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.

What Quid Pro Quo Harassment Looks Like

Even though quid pro quo requests in the workplace may occasionally be outright obvious, the reality is that this type of sexual harassment is often subtle. Some people may not even realize they are becoming victims of this type of harassment right away.

Quid pro quo harassment could include the following types of scenarios:

  • A supervisor or employer requesting sexual favors in exchange for various types of job benefits, including promotions, raises, favorable scheduling, and more.
  • An employer or supervisor actually threatening an employee with discipline or termination if they do not submit to the sexual demands.

Again, sometimes a supervisor or employer will actually ask outright for these kinds of favors, but other times they may imply that they want some type of sexual favor from an employee. This can include using indirect language to refer to sexual acts, using hand gestures or motions to get the employee to guess what they want, showing the employee unwanted sexual images, etc. Even gestures such as a raised eyebrow after offering a raise or promotion could be considered quid pro quo harassment.

What You Need to do Now

If you have experienced quid pro quo harassment in your California workplace, you need to reach out to a skilled employment law attorney as soon as possible. This type of harassment is unacceptable, and you need to take steps to protect yourself, your job, and your finances. An employment law attorney will examine the quid pro quo scenario and work towards developing a case to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to for this type of harassment. This could include reinstatement to a position, any back pay you are owed, lost wages as a result of termination or demotion, any benefits you are owed, and more.

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