What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment? - Adamson Ahdoot

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What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

January 24, 2023 Alan Ahdoot
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Workplace sexual harassment has become so prevalent in the US that between 54% and 81% of female employees experience some form of sexual misconduct at work. To make matters worse, 72% of these victims are afraid to report these issues to the local authorities for fear of losing their jobs and facing retaliation. One of the most common forms of inappropriate behavior among those who are victims is quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Regardless of gender, sexual harassment victims lose a maximum of $1.3 million or more over their lifetime. Ultimately, the impact of workplace sexual harassment is detrimental and can have long-lasting effects on those who experience it.

Sexual misconduct by quid pro quo occurs when superiors seek sexual favors from their subordinates in exchange for a job benefit or to avoid some detriment (e.g., demotion, termination). Unlike other forms of workplace sexual harassment, quid pro quo exploitation often goes unnoticed. People who engage in this kind of misconduct try their best to gain power over their victims by utilizing power play. 

If you have suffered from sexual harassment at work but don’t know how to hold your abuser legally responsible, we’re here to provide a helping hand. We’ll be discussing what quid pro quo sexual harassment is, explore common examples, and guide you through the process of filing for a compensation claim.  

What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

The Latin term quid pro quo directly translates to “this for that,” which means returning a favor to another person. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when supervisors or managers offer their employees or subordinates benefits and other work opportunities in exchange for sexual favors. 

This form of sexual misconduct may also happen to job applicants. Certain interviewers may reject or accept prospective depending on whether they submit to their sexual advances. Regardless if the abuse is explicit or implicit, it is illegal according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

Typically, there must be a discrepancy in power between the two parties. Harassers use their position in the company to ask for sexual favors or assault the victims. They may even use intimidation and threaten victims to get what they want. 

Suppose a supervisor or a manager is guilty of quid pro quo sexual misconduct. In that case, they and their employer can be held liable in court.

work tables at the office
The legal system offers a way to hold your harasser accountable.

What is An Example of Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

To further understand how quid pro quo harassment works, we’ll explore two scenarios as an example. 

Local bank manager Billy is set to interview a male applicant for the accounting clerk position. During the interview, Billy placed his hand on John Doe’s thigh without permission. When John Doe attempts to remove his hand, Billy asks whether he wants to land the job. 

It’s implied in Billy’s actions that for John Doe to get their desired job, they need to accept his sexual advances. 

Another example of quid pro quo abuse is when Ned, a supervisor, withholds one of his female employee’s job promotions until she agrees to go out on a date. 

If you or someone you know has experienced something similar to these examples we’ve provided, you can file a compensation claim against the at-fault party. 

Elements of A Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Claim

Should you decide to file for a compensation claim, there are certain elements you must consider:

  • The victim is a member of a protected class like the federal law Title VII;
  • The victim was employed or applied for a position in the company where the alleged harasser worked;
  • The alleged harasser was in a supervisory or a top-level executive position;
  • The victim experienced unwanted sexual advances from the alleged harasser and was told they may receive job benefits if accepted or be penalized if rejected;
  • The alleged harasser’s misconduct played a significant role in causing the victim harm

If these provisions apply to you, we recommend seeking advice from a personal injury attorney who can help you through the legal process, from filing for a claim to the civil trial itself.

What Are The Possible Legal Remedies?

While most companies have their respective systems for reporting, investigating, and punishing sexual harassment claims, some institutions may fail to take action. If a victim has reported the incident to their HR department and is unsatisfied with how they handled the case, the next best course of action is to file a claim.

Plaintiffs who lost their job or were demoted because they denied their superior’s sexual advances could file a quid pro quo claim. Since it’s illegal for employers to terminate or engage in any other form of retaliation against sexual harassment victims, they can be awarded compensatory damages.

They could qualify for compensatory damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and attorney fees. But if a victim plans on filing for a state claim, the categories for damages may be slightly different.

Punitive damages can also be applicable if the violations are more serious. These types of damages are awarded to punish harassers. This prevents them from engaging in sexually abusive acts in the future, though they are very rarely granted.

Even if the alleged harasser’s threats didn’t materialize, the plaintiff can still file for a hostile work environment claim. A hostile work environment is one where an employee’s actions at the office create uncomfortable conditions for other employees.

The alleged harasser can still be responsible for their misconduct, regardless of whether there were negative consequences. 

Seek Legal Help For Your Case

Ultimately, quid pro quo sexual harassment can traumatize victims and their families. And having to go through a detailed legal process of filing a personal injury claim can only add more stress. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the procedures. 

If you’ve experienced an incident involving quid pro quo harassment, you should seek legal help. As one of the best options in California, the representatives at Adamson Ahdoot can help you win your case.

We’re a full-service civil litigation firm with over 100 years of combined legal experience. At Adamson Ahdoot, we are experts in handling personal injury cases. At Adamson Ahdoot, we offer guarantees of success. You can trust that the best lawyers will handle your case with the intimacy and attention to detail you deserve.

Our team commits to putting people first. We serve a diverse clientele and offer free English and Spanish consultations. Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation. A knowledgeable injury attorney will be happy to assist you. You can also visit our website.

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Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

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