Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a person requests sexual favors in exchange for a favorable employment outcome in the workplace or an academic setting. The phrase quid pro quo means “this for that” in Latin, and it describes a certain type of illegal workplace sexual harassment. A common type of quid pro quo happens when a male employee fires a female employee for refusing to participate in a sex act with him. Unfortunately, quid pro quo sexual harassment can happen in any Washington academic setting or workplace.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it is essential that you speak with an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible.
What Constitutes Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
There are several different types of illegal sexual harassment in Washington state. The creation of a hostile work environment due to ongoing sexual harassment is illegal in Washington. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is also illegal. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when an employee’s rejection or submission to sexual requests or demands directly affects their employment as a “this for that” bargain. Suppose a manager, boss, or other authority figure demands that the employee engage in sexual jokes, provide sexual favors, or go out on a date with him or her to avoid being fired. In that case, the employer would be guilty of quid pro quo sexual harassment.
This type of sexual harassment can also happen when an employer makes an adverse employment decision after encouraging employees to engage in illegal and discriminatory behavior. Suppose a manager indirectly encourages employees to tell new employees that they must show him sexual body parts to be placed on the desirable day shift. This behavior would likely qualify under state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Can Happen to Anyone
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can happen to anyone, from an hourly employee to a CEO. It does not always involve a supervisor or manager. A client, a customer, a co-worker, or even a non-employee can commit sexual harassment. The gender of the victim and the harasser can vary as well. In many cases, this type of sexual harassment involves a male harasser and a female victim, but that is not always the case. The victim and the harasser can be of the same gender or gender identity.
Succeeding in a Claim
Many sexual harassment victims think that they do not have a valid legal claim because their employer never actually forced them to engage in sexual behavior. Perhaps the employee walked away after their employer offered them a promotion in exchange for sexual activity. In that situation, if it occurs more than once, it is likely that a sexual harassment claim exists. Sexual harassment claims do not need to involve illicit sexual acts either. Suppose an employer asks an employee to look at pornographic images with him in exchange for a pay raise. In that situation, the employee would likely have a valid claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment. It is important to note that victims of sexual harassment need not engage in sexual activity to succeed in a legal claim against the employer. As an employee, you only need to show that you were exposed to sexual harassment in the workplace. In other words, you will only need to show that your employer suggested that he or she would give you a favorable employment outcome if you engage in sexual activity of some sort.
If you are unsure whether you have a valid claim, the best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced employment lawyer. Your lawyer will review the facts of your case and help you understand your legal options.
Taking Action and Protecting Your Legal Rights
Unfortunately, most sexual harassment victims never make a claim. In some cases, victims are understandably concerned about losing their jobs or about the social stigma they will experience after publicly accusing their employer of sexual harassment. Many sexual harassment victims are concerned that if they report sexual harassment, the human resources department will try to hide the complaint or refuse to conduct a meaningful investigation. For these reasons, it is crucial for employees who have experienced quid pro quo to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Attorney Kristi Favard of Sapphire Legal, PLLC has in-depth knowledge of Washington’s employment discrimination laws and has successfully represented clients throughout the greater Seattle area in sexual harassment lawsuits. She is passionate about providing her clients with aggressive legal representation. She can help you navigate the legal process and if your employer retaliates against you or fails to investigate your claim, she will help you take legal action. Contact her today to learn how she can advocate for your rights.