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Requirements for a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim

On Behalf of | Nov 24, 2021 | Sexual Harassment

Federal and California statutes protect employees from harassment by their employers. Quid pro quo sexual harassment may be subtle. It is different from other forms of harassment and is often viewed as bribery or another action that may hide in a hostile work environment.

Moving up in a company often requires new challenges and extra duties. However, when a supervisor or manager suggests a sexual favor in exchange for a promotion or keeping your job, it becomes sexual harassment. According to the American Bar Association, quid pro quo harassment occurs when a benefit of your job becomes tied to submitting to unwelcome sexual advances.

What does quid pro quo harassment look like?

This type of sexual harassment might involve a threat or a promise. Threats involve giving you less desirable job duties, a demotion or employment termination. Promises may include more favorable shift assignments, a raise or promotion. The “trade” component may be explicit or subtle. The perpetrators of other forms of sexual and non-sexual harassment may involve anyone in the workplace. However, only a person in a supervisory role concerning your position can commit quid pro quo sexual harassment.

What are the elements required for a quid pro quo claim?

If you lost your job or promotion due to quid pro quo sexual harassment, you must act quickly. The first step is filing a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days. For a successful claim, you must prove the following elements to a jury:

  • You were an employee or a job applicant
  • A decision regarding employment was dependent on your acceptance or rejection of the alleged sexual advances
  • Specific job benefits were conditional, based on your acceptance or rejection of the conduct
  • The alleged conduct harmed you
  • The purported harasser held a position of authority in the organization at the time of the incident

Details of your claim may include whether the conduct affected your work performance. The jury also considers the frequency, degree and nature of the harassment. Understanding the evidence required for a claim is critical to its success.

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