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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Jury Verdict For Employee Claiming Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment After Break Up With Supervisor Upheld

Sexual harassment at work. Disgusted employee being molested by her boss

Having fought for the rights of sexual harassment victims for more than two decades, our Citrus County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers know that employees are often subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment after the termination of a consensual relationship with a supervisor. Quid pro sexual harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual advances by a supervisor and the employee’s reaction to the sexual advances is then used as the basis for an employment decision regarding the employee. For example, the supervisor demotes or fires the victim because of her refusal to submit to the supervisor’s sexual advances, or the supervisor promises the victim an increase in pay or promotion if she complies with his sexual demands.

In the context of quid pro quo sexual harassment, employers generally argue that once a consensual relationship between a supervisor and subordinate existed, the subordinate can never then become the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment by that supervisor after the termination of the relationship. However, as observed by the court in Novak v. Waterfront Com’n of N.Y. Harbor, 928 F.Supp.2d 723 (S.D. N.Y. 2013), “there are clearly circumstances in which an employee’s failed romantic relationship with a supervisor can lead to an actionable [claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment], such as when the employee’s subsequent mistreatment can be tied to the rejected supervisor’s unwanted sexual advances or other inappropriate efforts to resume the relationship.”

Employee Claims Quid Pro Quo Harassment

In this article, our Inverness, Florida sexual harassment attorneys explain how the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Lashley v. New Life Business Institute, Inc., 2015 WL 1014128 (E.D. N.Y. Mar. 9, 2015) demonstrates that unlawful quid pro quo sexual harassment can occur following the termination of a romantic relationship between a supervisor and subordinate. In that case, Corey Lashley (Lashley) brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against his former employer, New Life Business Institute, Inc. (NLBI). Lashley claimed that he was subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment by his supervisor in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Title VII protects employees from sexual harassment, including hostile work environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment.

NLBI is a health care training facility which provides training to individuals in medical billing and becoming medical assistants. Flynn is the president of NLBI. Flynn met Lashley at a club in Queens, New York. This encounter led to both a romantic relationship, which lasted for several months, and Lashley’s employment at NLBI as an admissions recruiter. While Lashley was still employed at NLBI, he attempted to break up with Flynn. In response, Flynn became angry, sending Lashley a flurry of text messages, including one stating that “you should quit, it is not going to be nice” after Lashley refused to go to Flynn’s house to have sex with her.

After he refused to quit, Lashley was terminated from NLBI. Lashley was told that he was fired because of “a problem with one of his guys, his worker’s pay, and [Lashley] went in defense of him because he didn’t get all of his money,” and therefore Lashley was “not on [Flynn’s] side.” However, Lashley testified that Flynn told him that the true reason he was fired was because he did not want to sleep with her anymore. Following a four-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Lashley for $10,000 in compensatory damages and $30,000 in punitive damages.

Inappropriate Attempts To Resume Relationship

Following the jury’s verdict, NLBI filed a motion with the trial court claiming that Lashley’s quid pro quo sexual harassment failed as a matter of law and the trial court should have dismissed the claim before sending the case to the jury. In support of its position, NLBI maintained that because Lashley and Flynn had a consensual relationship, Lashley could not become the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment after the termination of the relationship. The trial court denied NLBI’s motion and upheld the jury’s verdict in favor of Lashley.

In denying NLBI’s motion, the trial court determined that Flynn’s retaliation against Lashley for his refusal to “resume sexual relations with her fits into the quid pro quo model of sexual harassment.” The trial court pointed out that Lashley “repeatedly tried to break up” with Flynn, but she kept attempting to get back together with Lashley, even telling him that she would “provide for him,” “pay his child support,” and buy him “an all new white Range Rover.” The trial court also observed that after Lashley told Flynn that he wanted to end their romantic relationship, Flynn responded in an angry and threatening fashion by telling Lashley that “she was going to make things extremely difficult,” and Flynn “eventually did, by reducing his overtime.” The trial court further observed that Lashley’s testimony that Flynn told him the true reason he was fired was because he did not want to sleep with her anymore established that his rejection of Flynn’s sexual advances was a motivating factor for his termination.

Consult With Inverness Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have been fighting for employee rights for more than twenty years. If you have been the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment or have questions about your protection against quid pro quo sexual harassment under the federal civil rights laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida sexual harassment lawyers. Our employees’ rights attorneys take sexual harassment cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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