Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Definition

Quid pro quo harassment is the most commonly recognized type of sexual harassment in the United States. If you are facing this type of harassment, you are not alone.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal according to federal and Texas state laws. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is the most hidden form of harassment. People who engage in this try to gain or maintain power over their victims. This is just like in other forms of sexual harassment. However, there is a power discrepancy with quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Have you suffered from sexual harassment in the workplace? Have you tried to report the harassment and faced retaliation? Speak to a qualified, experienced employment attorney to find out if you are entitled to compensation. 

What does quid pro quo mean?

“Quid pro quo,” translates as “this for that,” in Latin. It is a favor, perk, or advantage given or expected in return for something. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens if a job benefit is linked to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. It does not matter if the harassment is implicit or explicit, it is illegal. The benefits include:

  • Pay
  • Shift or work assignments
  • Performance expectations
  • Benefits
  • Title
  • Position
  • Other opportunities for advancement or training

This is not an exhaustive list. Quid pro quo sexual harassment takes many forms. If the quid pro quo sexual harassment involved a supervisor, manager, or any other employee higher in status than the victim, the employer is liable in Texas.

What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor requires sexual contact, sexual favors, or sex from an employee or job candidate. The employee or job candidate is expected to provide this as a requirement of their employment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is only possible if the person demanding sexual favors is in a position of power. This could include hiring, firing, and promoting. Additonally, this means that he or she has the authority to make significant employment decisions. The person being asked to satisfy these demands must be in a less powerful position.

If a subordinate rejects a sexual advance and faces negative consequences, this is also quid pro quo sexual harassment. 

The supervising harasser must have immediate (higher) authority over the employee. There must be a power discrepancy between the two parties. This power discrepancy must result in the party with less power feeling as if they must oblige or face negative consequences. 

Quid pro quo does not occur between two equal-status co-workers and non-decision making supervisors. An employer could be liable for the behavior of these employees due to hostile work environment regulations. 

The harasser’s employee status is significant. This is because if he or she is found to be a supervisor, the employing agency could be held liable for that supervisor’s actions. According to Agency law, the employer is held responsible for the actions of the supervisor. This is because they were in a position of power at the time of harassment. 

Employees or applicants wishing to fight against quid pro quo harassment need to act quickly. They must file a complaint with a state and/or federal labor protection agency first. Claimants have only 180 days to file with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What is NOT quid pro quo sexual harassment? 

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is common. However, not every awkward or rude situation constitutes quid pro quo harassment. Especially in the workplace. There are many complexities when it comes to workplace relationships. Therefore, it’s important to note instances that might be confused for quid pro quo sexual harassment. Here are a few examples of scenarios which might be confused for quid pro quo sexual harassment:

  • Intimate relationships between supervisors and employees which are consensual. These relationships should not influence work performance.
  • Consensual relationships between employees who don’t have any say in employment decisions that might affect either of the partners.
  • An exchange that involves bartering, but not with sexual favors. 
    • This could be bribing a boss to get a promotion.
  • A case of sexual harassment that does not include bartering in the “this for that,” manner. 

If you think you’re facing quid pro quo harassment, it might be helpful to consider all the different types of harassment. If you are being harassed in the workplace, an experienced employment attorney at Leichter Law Firm can help you. With a free consultation, your attorney will be able to tell you if you have grounds to file a suit against your employer. Attorney David Langenfeld has represented victims of harassment for many years.

What is the difference between quid pro quo and hostile work environment?

Hostile work environment

A hostile work environment is when someone’s actions in a workplace create an uncomfortable environment for someone else. This is due to discrimination. It usually occurs when someone faces frequent unwanted sexual advances. This also includes sexual comments, requests, or other similar conduct. It may also happen when there is other physical or verbal conduct that is sexual in nature. Some examples include:

  • Sexual jokes.
  • Interference with someone’s ability to move freely.
  • Persistent, unwanted interactions. This may include asking someone for dates persistently.
  • Displays of inappropriate or offensive materials.

In order for this type of conduct to constitute a hostile environment, it must be unwelcome and happen frequently or pervasively. It is not a hostile work environment if this activity happened once. If someone made an unreciprocated attempt at a sexual relationship, but ceased after the first attempt, it is not a hostile work environment. These include unwelcome, frequent, and pervasive undesired behaviors. The courts evaluate these criteria on a case-by-case basis. Generally, in order to prove a hostile work environment, at least one criteria must be met. Speak with a hostile work environment attorney to learn more.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment

Quid pro quo harassment is different from a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment does not require any employment benefit to be at risk. It is not tied to the promise or threat of specific employment actions. This type of sexual harassment might exist at any level in a company. Especially those that hold the same rank in a company.

In addition, inappropriate behavior might also create a hostile work environment for other employees. This could include employees who were not the intended targets of the behavior. When a supervisor favors one employee for sexual reasons, but not another, other employees may suffer.

An employer can be held liable for hostile work environment harassment. Even if it occurs between two of his or her employees. This includes employees who are not supervisors. The plaintiff must prove that the employer knew or should have known about the situation. They must also prove that the employer did not take the necessary steps to stop the behavior or prevent it. 

In the event that the employer did take immediate steps to stop the situation after being notified, the employer could have a valid defense. Likewise, if the employer took steps to prevent it, they might not be held liable. However, if the supervisor is the harasser, the employer can typically be held liable by default. Speak with an attorney to learn more. Each case is different and requires investigation.

Will I get fired for reporting sexual harassment?

Standing up against sexual harassment in the workplace is a legally protected activity. Everyone has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment. Your employer may not retaliate against you for reporting it. You are entitled to do any of the following without fearing retaliation:

  • Filing sexual harassment complaints.
  • Speaking to people outside of your company about workplace sexual harassment.
  • Acting as a witness in a sexual harassment investigation or lawsuit.
  • Talking to a supervisor or anyone else in the workplace about concerns about sexual harassment. 
  • Answering questions during an internal investigation.
  • Turning down sexual advances.
  • Intervening to protect someone else from sexual harassment.

After you file a sexual harassment claim, you gain legal protections. It is your right to report sexual harassment to relevant authorities. Despite this, unfortunately, retaliation is still common. Of course it is possible that you could get fired after reporting harassment. But your employer would be extremely reckless and stupid to do so. This would only make your case stronger. Speak to an attorney immediately if you have a good employment record and got fired. This could constitute wrongful termination. If your employer or employees retaliate against you in any way, your employer can be held liable. 

Liability

An employee must prove that severe sexual harassment from a supervisor caused damages, in order to receive compensation. An employer might still be held liable even if no employment opportunity was denied. They might also be responsible if no loss of pay or benefits occurred. The plaintiff’s lawyer does not need to prove negligence. They do not need to prove direct wrongdoing on behalf of the company. 

An employer may still be held liable if no employment opportunity was denied. A plaintiff may still obtain compensation even if no loss of pay or benefits occurred. The plaintiff’s lawyer does not have to prove negligence or direct wrongdoing on behalf of the company. This is not to say that is easy to win a sexual harassment lawsuit. The best thing a plaintiff can do after facing sexual harassment is to document everything. Extensive records help the investigation process. Keep all emails, memos, and offensive materials. If other people witnessed the sexual harassment, they might also be helpful for documentation. It’s easy to forget all of this information during the stress of your case.

Compassionate Texas Employment Attorneys 

The attorneys at Leichter Law Firm know the grief victims of sexual harassment go through. Unfortunately, these situations are common. You are not alone. When you are facing sexual harassment in the workplace, you need an advocate. Don’t wait. Find an employment attorney that will be your champion and defender during these stressful times.

Our employment law attorneys are qualified to counsel clients on these issues. We challenge the enforcement of these agreements under appropriate circumstances. Seasoned employment attorney David Langenfeld can help you fight against unfair working conditions. Contact us today for a free, confidential case evaluation.

 

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