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, and Marlton, NJ, 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.
Examples of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a victim’s response to unwanted sexual advances determines his/her basis for employment decisions. For example, this could include an employee refusing her employer’s sexual advances and then being terminated as a result. Quid pro quo harassment can include non-overt sexual advances, such as repeated, unwanted glances or inappropriate verbal cues. A result of the harassment can be the termination or demotion of the employee. Additionally, if an employer or supervisor offers an employee a raise or promotion based on his or her agreement to engage in sexual acts, this behavior constitutes quid pro quo harassment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can happen between a male supervisor and female subordinate, female supervisor and male subordinate, or two coworkers of the same sex. The harassment can take place in the workplace or any other location, as long as it arises from the workplace relationship.
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.
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 and Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the state.