Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Rockland County Attorney Advocating for the Rights of Employees

No one should be forced to put up with sexual harassment of any type in the workplace, but it happens with alarming regularity. Cases involving supervisors as harassers can take the form of quid pro quo sexual harassment, and they have received much attention in the media recently. Victims should not hesitate to take action under the law to hold those who have mistreated them accountable. Rockland County sexual harassment lawyer Valerie J. Crown represents people who are dealing with the aftermath of an authority figure abusing their power.

The term “quid pro quo” is actually a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” In the context of sexual harassment litigation, quid pro quo means that a person in the workplace offered to give something in exchange for a sexual act or favor. An example might be if a supervisor promises an employee more hours or a better shift in exchange for sex or for going on a date. Quid pro quo sexual harassment can also happen when a manager promises not to do something (like terminate a worker or give them an inferior assignment or lesser pay) in exchange for sexual favors. It is not necessary that the plaintiff actually engage in the activity suggested by the harassing individual, but the victim must be able to prove that he or she suffered actual damages due to the quid pro quo conduct.

Claims Based on Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

In a New York quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuit, a person who was denied job benefits or received an adverse employment decision because of a refusal to engage in sexual activity may be able to recover significant compensatory damages if the harassing individual’s conduct was a substantial factor in the harm suffered by the plaintiff. Often, the employer tries to defend the action as being unrelated to the plaintiff’s refusal to engage in the sexual activity solicited by the supervisor or manager. For example, if a local supervisor tells a subordinate that she will be fired if she does not comply with his sexual demands, but she is later terminated as part of a large downsizing mandated at the corporate level, it would be difficult for the employee to win a sexual harassment case because her refusal to submit to the supervisor’s request was not the reason for her termination. Retaining an attorney is a critical step to take because they will know how to argue against these defenses and present persuasive evidence that the employer’s stated reason for the adverse action was actually a pretext.

When an employee makes out a successful case of quid pro quo sexual harassment, he or she can receive payment for lost wages and benefits. The employee may also ask for compensation for emotional distress in some cases. Reinstatement to his or her previous position at work may be a possibility. Punitive damages, although rarely awarded, may be available if the defendant engaged in particularly egregious conduct. It is very important that a person who believes that he or she has been a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment file a complaint with the appropriate governmental agency within the time required by law. If the claim is brought under federal law, for example, this means filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the alleged harassment. Claims brought under state law, which is more expansive than federal law, have separate requirements.

Talk to a Rockland County Attorney About a Possible Sexual Harassment Case

Scheduling a consultation with an attorney who regularly handles sexual harassment cases can be an important first step in asserting your legal rights. Valerie J. Crown can pursue sexual harassment cases based on quid pro quo or hostile work environment throughout the Greater New York area. For an appointment to discuss your case, call us now at 845-708-5900 or contact us online. You can also call Valerie’s cell phone at 845-598-8253. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and the legal options that you have.