What is Quid Pro Quo and What is Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment simply is unwanted comments or conduct of a sexual nature. Now there's two kinds of sexual harassment: there's hostile work environment, and then there's what's called quid pro quo. Quid pro quo is where the terms and conditions of your employment are based on whether you give in or do not give in to sexual advances. For example, if your supervisor comes to you and says, "If you don't go out with me tonight, I'm not giving you the extra hours this weekend," that's quid pro quo.

A hostile work environment is basically unwanted sexual comments, sexual jokes, innuendos made about you or about your body or about your social preferences or things that go on in your personal life, and it's illegal. Not only can you not be sexually harassed at work, but you can't be retaliated against for complaining about it. If you go to your supervisors and you tell them, "I feel I'm being sexually harassed," you cannot be fired, you cannot be demoted, you cannot be suspended, you cannot have your hours cut. That's retaliation and that is also illegal.

Gender Discrimination Attorneys Representing New York City Workers

Sexual harassment is serious. Employers are supposed to make sure that their employees and supervisors understand what sexual harassment is and how to avoid engaging in it. They are supposed to institute policies and grievance procedures that permit employees to make complaints when they are sexually harassed. However, many employers fail to react appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment. Many people do not understand what quid pro quo sexual harassment is or how to address it if they are victims of it. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers are experienced trial attorneys who can evaluate your situation to determine whether you have a viable claim under federal, state, or local laws. Read the discussion below and watch the video on this page to find out more about quid pro quo sexual harassment.

What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo harassment happens when an employment benefit is offered in exchange for sexual favors of some kind. When submitting to unwelcome sexual advances or verbal or physical actions of a sexual nature is made explicitly or implicitly a condition of your employment, you have been made a victim of quid pro quo harassment. This type of harassment usually occurs between someone who is an authority or in a powerful position and their subordinate. For example, if a manager tells you that he will promote you if you have sex with him, he is committing quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Sometimes this harassment entails a threat of negative consequences for refusing to meet a sexual demand. For example, if your supervisor tells you that you will be fired or that you will receive a poor performance review if you do not meet a sexual demand, this is quid pro quo harassment.

An employer may be strictly liable for an upper level manager or owner's harassment of an employee. This means that even if none of the other owners or managers know about the harassment, the employer may be legally responsible. When a lower level manager or supervisor has enough control over your working conditions, your employer may be liable for that harassment even if an upper level manager or owner did not know about it.

Under Title VII and New York State Human Rights Law, hostile work environment claims are judged based on whether the harassment is severe or pervasive. The standard under the New York City Human Rights Law is substantially lower. While you may be able to bring a lawsuit based on just one episode of quid pro quo sexual harassment, only rarely is a hostile work environment claim brought on the basis of a single incident of harassment. However, if you are a victim of a sexual assault or unwanted touching a single incident may be enough to have a claim. It’s important to discuss your situation with an attorney who has experience handling discrimination and sexual harassment matters. Some cases can be resolved early prior to filing a lawsuit. Others, may have to be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and ultimately litigated in court.

You may bring a quid pro quo harassment case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, or the New York City Human Rights Law. Each of these laws has its own body of case law. State and local laws protect employees of smaller businesses. Phillips & Associates has helped hundreds of employees stand up and fight back against sexual harassment.

Consult a New York City Lawyer for a Sexual Harassment Claim

If you are wondering what quid pro quo harassment is, you should consult an employment discrimination attorney about your situation. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment attorneys can evaluate whether you may have faced quid pro quo sexual harassment, advise you on which laws are likely to support a claim, and provide vigorous legal representation as appropriate. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or use our online form to set up a free consultation. We fight sexual harassment in Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties.