If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work, contact a reputable quid pro quo sexual harassment lawyer. This professional can help determine whether you have a case and advise you on the best ways to move forward.
At Gilleon Law Firm, we are ready to help you. With years of experience and a proven record of success, we are known for being both respectful and supportive of our clients and “tenacious” in the pursuit of justice on their behalf. We are proud of the reputation we have earned and look forward to providing you with the same outstanding service. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation at (800) 408-2857.
What is Meant by the Term Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
“This for that” is the literal definition of this Latin term. In and of itself, the phrase is not negative. In fact, it is used quite frequently, particularly when determining whether a contract exists. It is the exchange of one thing of value for another. For example, if one contracts to purchase real property from another for a specific price, a quid pro quo agreement has occurred. There is a “trade” of property for money. However, when referring to a sexual harassment situation, the meaning is much less positive.
Quid Pro Quo: Understanding Sexual Harassment
Under the law, the term quid pro quo is also used to define certain types of workplace sexual harassment. If your supervisor or employer (or anyone in a position of power who has authority over you) indicates that you will receive any type of work-related benefit in exchange for sexual relationships, acts, or encounters, you have been the victim of quid pro quo harassment. Examples of what you may be offered include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Priority project assignments
- Vacation time.
It is also important to understand that if a situation occurs where consequences are threatened for not agreeing to a sexual encounter, it is also quid pro quo harassment. Examples of negative work consequences may include:
- Job dismissal
- Unpopular schedules/shifts
- Poorly regarded assignments.
What are Examples of Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
Has This Happened to You?
Quite often, those who are victims of sexual harassment at work have trouble believing that it actually happened, or that it was really “wrong.” Many tend to find excuses for their harassers. Statements like “it must have been a joke” or “he/she couldn’t have meant it like that” are frequently uttered. In fact, individuals who contact us often ask, “Which behavior is an example of quid pro quo harassment?” They need to be reassured that what they experienced was indeed inappropriate and illegal. Below are three examples that illustrate this issue.
- Your supervisor threatens to fire you if you don’t go on a date with him/her.
- Your manager states that you would be a better candidate for a promotion if you joined him/her for “drinks” after work.
- You are fired from your job, despite positive reviews, after ending a relationship with your significant other, whom you also happened to report to at work.
Whether or not you refused the advances or requests of the person in power is not a factor in determining whether harassment actually occurred. Simply being approached and having to make a decision is reason enough. The situations above are only a few examples of the many that those who have been harassed have experienced. Unfortunately, instances of quid pro quo sexual harassment in California and across the country are significant.
Reacting to Quid Pro Quo Harassment: What You Should Do
Being harassed at work is frightening, embarrassing, and frustrating. Victims often don’t know where to turn. We are often asked, “What should I do if I am being harassed at work? The answer is actually a series of steps.
- Report the Offense. Notifying someone in your workplace that the harassment has occurred is the critical first step, both in terms of rectifying the situation and possibly receiving future compensation. Clearly, if the harasser is your immediate supervisor, you would need to go above him or her. Consider speaking to a more senior manager or someone in the human resources department.
Businesses in California are responsible for their employees’ behavior and are required to have processes in place for sexual harassment complaints. While you can discuss the incident when sharing your experience with HR or a supervisor, you should always follow-up. Document your complaint in writing. And, remember, you cannot be punished (fired or demoted) for reporting these issues. It is illegal to do so. The action of reporting is protected.
- Record the Instances. Keep accurate records of what happened, including the dates, times, and places of each and every occurrence and what was said. Additionally, make sure to save all communications in response to your complaint from your employer. Because of California law, how they react can impact future lawsuits.
- Seek Legal Advice. Contact a reputable quid pro quo sexual harassment attorney. Share your experience and request advice and counsel. This process can be complicated and emotionally draining. The support of a qualified professional is invaluable.
- Lodge an Official Complaint. In California, all sexual harassment complaints should be filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Learn about the complaint process here. Be aware of the time constraints surrounding these filings. You don’t have forever to make a decision. They must be received within three years of the offense.
- File Suit. Once you receive a right-to-sue notice from the DFEH, you can officially move forward with your case. Once again, time restrictions (as stated in Government Code 12965 GC) apply. You must file your civil lawsuit (against the company which employed you and/or the individual who harassed you) within one year of the date of the notice.
Following these steps is important as each is a critical component regarding possible compensation. At Gilleon Law Firm, we can help you do this. We know how to file a sexual harassment lawsuit. Contact us at (800) 408-2857 and learn exactly what we can do for you.
Sexual Harassment Laws in California
What Is the Difference Between Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Workplace Harassment?
California takes the responsibility of protecting those who work within the state incredibly seriously. In fact, its sexual harassment laws are more stringent than those of the Federal government. California’s Department of Justice states that “Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.”
California defines sexual harassment as either hostile workplace harassment or quid pro quo, and both are illegal. Hostile workplace harassment occurs when someone with whom you come in contact at work (supervisor, co-worker, or even a client) displays behavior or makes comments based on sex that make your work experience uncomfortable.
On the other hand, according to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, (DFEH), quid pro quo “is when someone conditions a job, promotion, or other work benefit on your submission to sexual advances or other conduct based on sex.” The expectation of a “trade” is apparent.
How Do You Prove Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
Does Your Experience Meet These Qualifications?
You may be wondering what needs to happen in order to prove quid pro quo harassment. The answers are surprisingly straightforward. In order to have a viable quid pro quo harassment suit in California, the following must have occurred.
- Your experience must include being approached with sexual comments, propositions, or demands.
- There must be an imbalance of power. Your harasser must be an individual in your workplace who holds a higher position than you.
- There were negative repercussions (poor review, demotion, loss of job) for your denying the sexual advances or demands.
It is never appropriate for anyone to whom you report to leverage his/her position in order to coerce you into any type of sexual behavior.