Would you recognize “quid pro quo” sexual harassment?

The issue of sexual harassment has finally made its way from the back burner to the front, thanks to the exposure it receives from the #MeToo movement. More people here in California and across the nation are coming forward with their stories and are no longer suffering in silence.

Even with the additional exposure, sexual harassment can still be challenging to prove. In fact, some people may not readily recognize they are victims of this type of harassment. For instance, a superior or hiring manager may make subtle innuendos regarding the desire to trade sexual favors from the employee or applicant in exchange for some benefit to the employee or applicant.

It’s called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment

“Quid Pro Quo” is Latin for “something for something.” For example, a supervisor may agree to recommend you for, or give you, a promotion if you perform some sexual favor for him or her. Individuals who make these requests may do so either blatantly or subtly. In any case, if you wish to file a complaint, you will need to provide evidence of the following:

  • You applied for a job or work at the company in question.
  • Your alleged harasser also works for the company in question as an agent, officer or supervisor.
  • He or she made unwanted sexual advances toward you.
  • He or she engaged in unwanted physical or verbal behaviors of a sexual nature.
  • He or she promised you certain employment benefits in exchange for complying with the requests for sexual favors.
  • He or she made decisions regarding your employment based on whether you accepted or rejected the advances.
  • You suffered harm as a result.
  • His or her actions represented a primary factor in the harm you suffered.

In simpler terms, you must prove that your rejection of your superior’s sexual advances resulted in adverse actions against you. For example, if you did not receive a promotion, lost your job or suffered some other form of retaliation, simply because you did not give in to his or her sexual advances, that could provide the evidence you need to prove this form of sexual harassment.

It’s important for you to document what happened as quickly and accurately as possible before your memory fades. Moreover, the longer you wait to come forward, the more skeptical some may be that the harassment occurred. Admittedly, that isn’t fair, but it is the reality you may face. Perhaps, most importantly, you may want to take steps to gain an understanding of your rights and legal options before moving forward with a complaint.