In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) established that there are two main types of sexual harassment in the workplace: quid pro quo and the fostering of a hostile work environment. Of those two types, quid pro quo is perhaps the lesser-understood classification. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that literally translates to “Something for something.”
Quid Pro Quo Harassment in the Workplace
In the context of workplace sexual harassment, quid pro quo often means an employee is offered a raise, promotion, or some other work-related benefit in exchange for engaging in a sexual act with the person in power—usually a supervisor. Importantly, though, one does not have to be an employee to experience quid pro quo sexual harassment. If a hiring manager offers a candidate an open job position contingent on the candidate’s acceptance of a date with the hiring manager, for instance, the candidate has likely experienced quid pro quo harassment.
Benefits Versus Threats
Quid pro quo sexual harassment does not always involve the prospect of workplace benefits for the worker experiencing harassment. This type of sexual harassment can also involve managers and supervisors who threaten employees with adverse actions if they decline sexual offers. An employee might receive a pay cut or suffer a demotion if their manager follows through on a quid pro quo threat, to give two examples.
To Whom Should You Report Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
Being direct with the worker who is sexually harassing you and informing them that their behavior is unacceptable might have the desired effect. In many cases, though, and for many reasons, that route is not viable for employees who are being sexually harassed. It is often best to report the harassment to your manager or your company’s human resources department.
Depending on the company’s response to your allegations and the results of any internal investigations, you may need to file a formal complaint with the EEOC. This step is required before filing a lawsuit. At every step of the way, make sure you are documenting as many details as possible about the harassment.
Proving Quid Pro Quo Harassment in Court
Your attorney will assemble your case and do their best to prove you experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment if your case goes all the way to court. Each case is different, but the following elements generally make up a successful quid pro quo case for plaintiffs:
- A supervisor, manager, or worker in position of power made unwelcome sexual comments or advances to an employee or prospective employee;
- A benefit or adverse action for the employee or prospective employee was (explicitly or implicitly) conditioned on acceptance of the unwelcome sexual overtures;
- The employee experiencing the harassment was harmed in some way by the sexual harassment;
- The harm experienced by the plaintiff was largely caused by the sexual harassment.
Caring Legal Counsel is Here to Help
Even after the groundbreaking #MeToo movement, workers across the U.S. experience sexual harassment at alarming rates. If this has happened or is currently happening to you, understand that you do not simply have to “deal with it” or suffer alone. Feldman Legal Group is dedicated to upholding the rights of workers and helping them get justice when they are wronged by an employer. We are here to fight for you.