Understanding Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
In Latin, quid pro quo means “something for something.” It is also the legal term for a common form of sexual harassment in the workplace, where an employee is pressured to give in to sexual demands in exchange for favorable treatment at work, such as a raise, better benefits, time off, or a promotion. The harassment can also take the form of a threat, losing a job, a negative performance review, or a demotion. If the employee is intimidated and feels that non-compliance will result in adverse employment conditions or termination, and must choose between submitting to sexual demands to advance or maintain employment conditions, then they are being subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Employees who have been forced to endure quid pro quo sexual harassment or who have been subjected to retaliation should discuss their situation with one of our skilled attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. to determine their legal options. Based in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, Newark, NJ, New York, NY, and Philadelphia, PA , and representing clients throughout New Jersey, our employment lawyers provide skilled legal counsel in sexual harassment and hostile work environment matters. Because our lawyers have experience assisting both employees and employers in a wide range of sexual harassment and other employment matters, we offer a unique insight and perspective to our clients.
What Are Some Examples of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can manifest in a variety of ways, and it is essential for employees and employers alike to recognize the signs. Understanding the nuances can empower victims to come forward and can help employers maintain a safe and respectful work environment. Below are some typical examples of behaviors that qualify as quid pro quo harassment:
- Promotion Offers: A supervisor promising an employee a promotion in exchange for sexual favors.
- Threats of Termination: An employer threatening to fire an employee unless they comply with their sexual advances.
- Favorable Assignments: A manager offering an employee a preferred assignment or project if they engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with them.
- Pay Raises: An employee being told they’ll receive a salary increase if they submit to sexual requests or activities.
- Training Opportunities: Withholding professional development or training opportunities unless the employee agrees to sexual demands.
- Performance Reviews: Giving an unfairly negative performance review because an employee declined a manager’s sexual advances, or giving a positive review in exchange for submission to such advances.
- Exclusion from Activities: Threatening to exclude the employee from essential work events or meetings unless they acquiesce to unwanted sexual attention.
In the workplace, recognizing the signs of quid pro quo harassment is critical. Such behaviors can gravely impact the victim’s career trajectory, mental well-being, and overall job satisfaction. Every employee has the right to work in an environment free from such coercive practices, and understanding these common manifestations is a step toward ensuring a safe workplace for all.
New Jersey Laws Against Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
All forms of sexual harassment in the workplace are prohibited by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Under this law, and other federal statutes, your employer has a responsibility to prevent, investigate, and properly address sexual harassment complaints. If you have been subjected to harassment, the individual harasser and your employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and your pain and suffering.
To qualify as a case of quid pro quo harassment, the plaintiff and the defendant must both work for the same company and the defendant must be in a position of power over the plaintiff, for example, the supervisor or manager. The defendant must be able to give or withhold an employment benefit to the plaintiff to meet the definition of quid pro quo. A co-worker with no authority over the plaintiff that demands sexual favors will not constitute a quid pro quo claim, but depending on the circumstances, the case may instead qualify as a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim.
Are You Protected Against Retaliation for Reporting Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
In New Jersey, employees are safeguarded against retaliation when they report quid pro quo harassment. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits employers from taking punitive actions, such as firing, demotion, or any adverse employment decisions, against those who raise harassment concerns. If you face retaliation after reporting, you can seek legal recourse to protect your rights and possibly obtain compensation.
What Compensation Will I Receive From A Successful Quid Pro Quo Harassment Case?
If you prevail in a quid pro quo harassment lawsuit in New Jersey, you may receive compensation for lost wages, lost benefits, emotional distress, lost job opportunities, and more, including potential reinstatement if you were wrongfully terminated. Given the complexity of these cases, consulting an experienced attorney is essential to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
Filing A Claim Against The Harasser
Under the NJLAD, you may file a sexual harassment lawsuit in court without having to go through the New Jersey administrative channels first. Contact our office before filing an NJLAD claim in order to fully understand your options.
To constitute quid pro quo harassment, the demand for sex acts must be clearly unwanted and can be explicit or implicit. A victim who has complied with inappropriate requests can still bring a complaint against the employer. The plaintiff must show that certain job benefits were promised on the condition of compliance and that there was harm done by refusing to comply, such as termination or being denied an opportunity for promotion.
A successful quid pro quo harassment case can result in compensation for the victim, including payment for lost wages, lost benefits, damages for emotional distress, lost job opportunities, and a return to a former position, if the harassment involved termination. These cases are complex and require the guidance of an experienced attorney to obtain justice.
Representing Employers In NJ Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Claims
Employers need to take sexual harassment seriously, have effective policies, and strictly enforce these policies. Ignoring problems, minimizing employee complaints, failing to perform thorough investigations, or failing to take proper remedial action can create substantial liability for supervisors and employers.
Employers can avoid liability for quid pro quo harassment if they can prove that:
- They took steps to prevent or correct the harassment.
- The employee did not heed or take advantage of their attempts to prevent or correct the harassment.
Our attorneys provide guidance to minimize potential risk and exposure. Our firm can help employers create employee handbooks and policies, provide a clear understanding of employment laws, and help companies avoid future employment law claims.
Our Attorneys Advocate For Victims Of Sexual Harassment in NJ
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of discrimination and sexual harassment. If you feel you are a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment at work, contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. to speak to an experienced employment discrimination lawyer who will review your case to help you determine your legal options. An initial consultation is free and confidential, so call us today or contact us online. From our offices in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, Newark, NJ, New York, NY, and Philadelphia, PA we serve clients throughout the state.