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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

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Stop sexual harrassment

Courts have characterized quid pro quo harassment as the most severe and oppressive type of sexual harassment in the workplace.  Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of a supervisor’s sexual behavior, such as sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, is used as the basis for employment decisions regarding the victim.    

The employment decision affecting the victim on which submission to or rejection of the supervisor’s sexual behavior may be favorable, such as a promised raise or promotion.  For example, the supervisor promises the victim a raise or promotion if she submits to the supervisor’s sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.  Likewise, the supervisor tells the victim that her continued advancement is dependant upon her agreeing to his sexual demands. Similarly, the supervisor conditions his recommendation of a raise or promotion upon her having sexual relations with him.    

The employment decision affecting the victim on which submission to or rejection of the supervisor’s sexual behavior may be unfavorable, such as a decrease in pay, demotion, or termination.  For example, the supervisor demotes or terminates the victim because of her rejection of the supervisor’s sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.    

Quid pro quo sexual harassment also includes threatened employment decisions if the victim does not submit to or rejects the supervisor’s sexual advances or request for sexual favors, such as threats to reduce pay, demote, or terminate.  For example, the supervisor threatens the victim with demotion or termination if she refuses to submit to or rejects the supervisor’s sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.  Likewise, the supervisor threatens to fire the victim if she reports his sexual behavior or threatens to fire the victim if she does not stop complaining.    

Quid pro quo sexual harassment may also occur implicitly, such as where the supervisor makes sexual advances in the context of discussions about the victim’s possible increase in pay or promotion.  Likewise, when discussing the possibility of a promotion, the supervisor tells the victim that if she plays her cards right, she will get what she wants.  Similarly, a supervisor makes repeated sexual advances over a short period of time and, within hours of one of his sexual advances, the supervisor mentions job benefits or job detriments to the victim.  Courts have recognized that implicit quid pro quo harassment is far more likely to occur than explicit quid pro quo harassment.  Courts reason that as harassers begin to understand that they can no longer sexually harass employees at their pleasure and without consequences, their sexually harassing behavior becomes less overt and more subtle.     

We have extensive experience representing employees who have been the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment and other types of sexual harassment in the workplace.  If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or have questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact our office for a free consultation. 

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