What is quid pro quo sexual harassment and how do you prove it?

Frank S. Clowney III

Sexual harassment remains a scary reality for far too many workers. Everyday, men and women are subjected to demeaning behavior that renders their workplace unsafe. Making matters worse is the fact that reporting sexual harassment often leads to negative employment actions, such as demotion, reassignment, or termination. This can leave you with a damaged reputation, a stalled career, and financial instability.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

This week let’s briefly look at quid pro quo sexual harassment. This type of harassment occurs when a coworker, usually someone in a more powerful position, makes promises for positive employment actions, such as a promotion or raise, upon compliance with a request for a sexual favor. This type of harassment can also involve threats of negative employment actions if the sexual favor isn’t given.

How These Cases Play Out In Court

To start, the victim in one of these cases has to show that sexual harassment actually occurred. With regard to quid pro quo, this means putting forth evidence that there were promises or threats predicated on compliance with a sexual request. Once you successfully show that, whether through witness testimony and/or documentation, the burden shifts to your employer to prove that any negative employment actions were taken for reasons other than sexual harassment. In other words, you’re employer will probably try to paint you as a bad employee. So, while you need to be aggressive in proving harassment, you also need to be prepared to defend yourself to a certain extent.

Stand Up for Your Rights

As a worker, you have several rights. One of them is to be able to work in a safe environment free of harassment. However, in many instances those rights are only protected when you take action to enforce them. We know it can be scary to stand up to your employer, but that’s why firms like ours stand ready to provide the best advocacy possible under the circumstances. Hopefully then you can find accountability and compensation for the harm that has been caused to you.