Sexual harassment cases happen more frequently than they should and can change the lives of both the victim and the perpetrator. Sexual harassment can occur anywhere, but it is often associated with workplace situations. Quid pro quo cases are the most easily hidden and includes a perpetrator that uses harassment to gain or maintain power over victims. Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, and if you have experienced harassment, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney.
What is Quid Pro Quo?
There are two different types of sexual harassment in the workplace; hostile work environment and quid pro quo. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when employment, pay, benefits, title, position, or other opportunities for advancement occur due to the submission of unwelcomed sexual advances. It normally involves an employee being pressured to perform sexual favors to avoid being fired or demoted by a superior. This is illegal and sexual acts should not be offered or forced in return for promotions or earned benefits at work.
Despite the fact that most sexual harassment cases in the workplace involve forced sexual acts, there are also cases that involve consensual sexual activities in return for an advancement at work. Regardless of the sexual acts being welcomed, it is still considered harassment, and the perpetrator can be charged in a court of law. If there is a sexual favor happening in return for something, this is the basis of harassment and is illegal, no matter what the relationship is between the harasser and victim.
Quid pro quo harassment can involve any employee or employer of a company, including a manager, supervisor, co-worker, owner, or any other worker of higher status. The harasser and victim can be opposite genders or the same, of any sexual orientation, or gender identity. It may seem like quid pro quo is one in the same with bribery, but it can more easily be ignored or slipped under the radar. Once these types of cases surface, they can ruin the reputation and status of a company. It can also cause the company to lose employees due to the nature of harassment.
What are the Signs of Quid Pro Quo Harassment at Work?
Due to its subtle nature, it can be hard to recognize quid pro quo harassment. Many employees do not report claims because they might fear that they will lose their jobs or not be taken seriously. Since it has elusive qualities, it is also difficult for co-workers to spot sexual harassment between other employees and supervisors. It is important for all members of a company to be on the lookout for harassment in the workplace and to be an ally for someone who may be facing a difficult situation. The following are signs to look out for:
- Advancement of a new employee quicker than those who have been at the company much longer
- Unexplained problems and friction among employees
- Rumors about a relationship in the workplace between an employee and their superior
- Clear signs of favoritism
- Employee evaluation does not match level of work completed
- Pay increase, despite less than efficient work
How Do I File for Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination in its many different forms. Employees must file a claim with their state and federal labor protection agency. The victim must also prove their case to a jury. Evidence needed to make a claim includes proving that:
- The plaintiff was an employee or applied for the defendant’s company
- The alleged harasser made unwanted sexual advances or verbal misconduct
- Certain job advancements were given in return for the harasser’s sexual advances.
- The defendant was a supervisor at the time of the harassment
- The plaintiff was harmed by the act of the defendant
A jury will specifically look for proof that confirms the sexual harassment resulted in the firing or demotion of the plaintiff. An employee may still file a claim if he or she submits to the employer’s sexual requests. The investigation into a quid pro quo case will focus on the following questions:
- Who was involved?
- What was done?
- What was said?
- Where did the incident take place?
- Was the alleged conduct sexual nature?
- Was the alleged conduct consensual or unwelcomed?
- Did the conduct involve an exchange of favors?
Will I Get Fired If I Report My Case?
Once you file a harassment case, you are protected by the law. If anyone from your workplace retaliates or treats you differently, your employer will be held responsible. Many victims who come forward about sexual harassment may fear that their case will cause friction in the workplace and that is why they normally keep their complaints confidential. This happens because of:
- Fear of harm or retaliation
- Embarrassment about the nonconsensual or consensual sexual acts
- Infidelity exposure
- Loss of respect from other co-workers
- Reluctance to involve others who knew about the harassment
Confidentiality with these cases cannot always be promised, but it is the responsibility of supervisors to keep the victim safe and comfortable at work. Ensure that the victim and the accused harasser no longer work together or near each other to prevent further issues. Also, avoid putting the victim in a situation that may seem as retaliatory and insensitive.
What Happens If I Win My Case?
A victim of sexual harassment may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, benefits, and employment opportunities. Victims may also receive compensation for emotional distress and may even get their jobs back. If the employee can prove that sexual harassment occurred and caused either damage or a hostile work environment, the employee has a good chance at winning the lawsuit.
How Can Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment be Prevented?
Employers need to be more proactive when it comes to monitoring and stopping harassment from occurring in the workplace. The following are effective strategies to help prevent sexual harassment:
- Implement policies that forbid harassment
- Encourage a culture of respect and open dialogue
- Frequent training sessions to ensure that everyone understands what harassment is and how to spot it
- Enforce consequences for violations of any harassment policy
- Managers and supervisors need to set the tone for everyone else
- Have an anonymous reporting center or mechanism to encourage anyone to speak up
- Strict enforcement by all members of the workplace community
When Should I Seek Legal Help?
If you have been involved in any kind of sexual harassment case, you will want to contact a professional for help with your claim. A sexual harassment lawyer understands the challenges involved in these types of cases and will help you receive maximum compensation for your case. Sexual harassment is a very traumatic experience to overcome, and it can be difficult to express yourself in court. Victims may fear retaliation from co-workers or not feel comfortable facing their harassers in court. A lawyer will take the stress away and ensure that your rights are being protected. Your safety is always a priority, and no one should have to live in fear due to someone else’s criminal behavior.
Montgomery County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims of Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment is a serious accusation and one that can affect the entire workplace community. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, our Montgomery County sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. will help you receive the compensation you deserve. Our dedicated legal team will fight to protect your rights. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.