What Is Hostile Work Environment Harassment vs. Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
For more than twenty years, our Citrus County sexual harassment lawyers have fought for the rights of victims sexually harassed in the workplace. Having litigated workplace sexual harassment cases for decades, our Inverness, Florida sexual harassment attorneys understand that harassment can come in many forms. Employees often do not realize that the poor treatment they have been forced to endure is not only rude and immoral; it’s illegal.
Workplace sexual harassment claims generally fall into one of two categories: hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment. Below, our seasoned workplace harassment attorneys discuss the differences between the two types of harassment and how a claim for harassment under each theory can be brought.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment (“this for that”) is the more well-known form of sexual harassment; it’s the “classic” form of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee’s supervisor makes a sexually charged advance in exchange for a workplace benefit or under threat of punishment.
To bring a quid pro quo claim, the worker must establish:
- The employee was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance, comment, or demand;
- The conduct was perpetrated by the employee’s supervisor or someone else higher up the chain of command;
- The employee was informed, either explicitly or implicitly, that refusing the advance or reporting the conduct would result in a negative employment action, including the withdrawal or refusal of a tangible employment benefit.
The “quid” can be any sort of romantic or sexual advance–physical contact, a request for a date, a demand for sexual activity, etc. The “quo” can take the form of an employment benefit, such as a raise, a bonus, a promotion, or a transfer to a more desirable location or position. The quo can also be a threat of a negative employment action, such as termination, a demotion, denial of a bonus or benefits, transfer to a less desirable location or permission, or other negative measures.
If the threat was not carried out, the employee might not have a claim for quid pro quo harassment, but they could still have a claim for a hostile work environment.
Hostile Work Environment
Hostile work environment (HWE) harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to unwanted conduct that is so severe or recurring that it makes it difficult or uncomfortable for an employee to continue doing their job. HWE claims are typically premised upon repeated conduct, but even a single incident can be so severe as to warrant a hostile work environment claim.
HWE claims can be premised on conduct perpetrated by supervisors or by conduct committed by coworkers (or even customers/clients) that is either ignored or endorsed by supervisors. Conduct that can give rise to an HWE claim includes:
- Sexist remarks
- Offensive or inappropriate comments, jokes, gestures, or images
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Physical threats
- Unwanted physical contact
- Insults, mockery, and intimidation
General unpleasantness does not give rise to an HWE claim; the conduct must target the victim’s sex, gender, or other protected characteristic. The conduct must also be pervasive (recurring) or severe. Conduct that is so severe as to give rise to a claim after a single incident might include, for example, sexual assault.
An experienced Florida sexual harassment attorney can help you understand your rights and the proper legal bases for any claims you may have against your employer for unlawful workplace harassment.
Citrus County Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Florida, our sexual harassment attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of sexual harassment victims. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace or have questions about your protection from sexual harassment under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes 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.