Quid Pro Quo is a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” And it still gets used as a term for exploitation that can happen in the workplace or academic settings. The Ehline Law Firm handles these delicate cases on behalf of victims with no voice of their own. What makes us different is that we work behind the scenes.
So we can help protect the victim until there is a smoking gun, or viable case. These cases are not easy to win and is especially frightening to the wage earner.
So any person under submission to a pernicious higher authority is a conundrum. Usually, this is a form of sexual harassment. And it happens when supervisors want sexual favors. Hence, it is sex in exchange for not terminating or disciplining an employee. It is unlawful.
Sex In Exchange for Raises is Unlawful.
This can also be in exchange for hiring an employee, giving raises or promotions. In some cases, it may get used as a way for the person in authority to offer a better job. Or they may provide a nicer schedule, better benefits.
Often, better grades in an academic setting get offered. Or it can get used to reducing a disciplinary action for an infraction. And this is sexual harassment because the employee or student must submit. So they have to partake in the sexual advances of the employer or teacher in exchange for something.
The victim believes he or she will pay a huge price if they refuse the sexual advance. And this can occur in different forms from a subtle hint to more advanced actions. Examples include the employer touching the employee sexually. Of course, the expectation is the employee remains silent.
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“Quid Pro Quo” Is Tantamount to Unwanted Sexual Advances
Quid pro quo situations are an unwanted sexual advance or using sex as a bargaining tool. Usually, it is by an individual higher up in a workplace. Obviously, this can make the workplace hostile or intolerable for the employee. California law protects the employee.
And a situation such as this entitles the employee to recover damages if the worker can prove it. So the quid pro quo actions must have resulted in getting deprived of benefits. And these include things such as promotions, raises or even a safe workplace.
Employers, managers or others in charge may not harass or discriminate against employees. And this includes workplace discrimination due to gender or sex. These laws apply in workplaces that include private businesses, labor organizations, and government agencies.
There are two types of sexual harassment that most claims fall under. First, there is hostile work environment and the second being quid pro quo. Quid pro quo is generally when a supervisor requests sexual favors in exchange for giving the employee a benefit. So it can be offering, a raise, promotion or good performance review. But the catch is the supervisor wants oral sex, or sex at a hotel down the street.
This action can be implied. But it can also accompany a threat of retaliation if the employee does not agree to the liaison. Under the law quid pro quo can be one single event. But usually in this kind of incident, there can be numerous sexual demands or advances. The sexual harassment may involve behavior or sexual propositions.
But it can also include comments on the employee’s body. Sometimes it will include graphic discussions of sex acts. And most people, especially married ladies, would consider this sexual harassment. In some situations, the supervisor may threaten the consequences of refusing the sexual demands.
Frequent requests may be subtle or demanding including:
- The promise of better job opportunity if the employee agrees to the sexual demands or suggestions.
- Suggesting being friendly is in the employee’s best interest by a supervisor.
- Withholding benefits, raises or promotions unless sexual acts get performed.
A hostile work environment exists when unwanted sexual behavior gets directed at an employee. The hostile work environment can also be sexual harassment. And this can be deemed unwelcome sexual conduct toward an employee. Though similar to quid pro quo, sexual harassment is a hostile work environment. And this exists where the employee is the focus of undesired attention.
The hostile work environment of sexual harassment must distress, offend or humiliate the employee. And if done by a supervisor it may include:
- Ogling or staring.
- Intrusive sexual questions.
- Sexually offensive jokes.
- Sexual comments or innuendo.
- Commenting on appearance or sexuality.
- Repeated unwanted body contact.
- Suggestive gestures or sexual sounds.
- Display of sexually explicit content or pornography.
- Deliberately exposing private parts.
Federal and California law prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. The California statute for sexual harassment is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. It is also found in California Government Code section 12900, et seq. And the federal laws are in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is additional clarification involving sexual harassment located there.
- Included in sexual harassment law is that it is unlawful to retaliate. So if an employee makes a complaint or reports the quid pro quo situation, they must get left alone.
- Sexual harassment can take place in the workplace or other locations. But it must occur due to the employment relationship.
- Most quid pro quo situations require a male supervisor/manager and the female employee. But the law is the same when the sexual harassment includes a female supervisor and male employee. Also, sexual harassment’s prohibitions come into play when supervisors and employees are the same sex.
And the law recognizes that sexual harassment may be widespread. Hence, it could be creating a hostile work environment for employees of one sex or both. The quid pro quo sexual harassment claim differs from a workplace hostile environment claim. And this is because it can be a single incident of an unwanted sexual advance by a supervisor, manager or owner.
This harassment is about maintaining job benefits, keeping the job or promotion. So one incident may be enough to support this claim. Hence, the employer is liable. The victim must prove by a preponderance of evidence defendant made unwanted sexual advances in exchange for a job promise or threat.
Or plaintiff must show defendant behaved directly to the employee in a sexual nature. But the victim must demonstrate it was as a condition for receiving employee benefits. And that could also include promotions, or avoiding adverse employment issues. The evidence shown should prove the events were more likely to have occurred than not.
Elements of a Claim: The items that must get established in a quid pro quo claim of sexual harassment following the California Judicial Council Jury Instruction, CACI 2520 states:
- The plaintiff applied to the defendant for a job. And was an employee of the respondent. Or was providing services under contract with the respondent.
- At the time the alleged sexual harassment occurred the person promoting their harassment was a supervisor, manager or agent of the employer.
- Defendant alleged harasser, engaged in unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Or defendant made advances to the plaintiff.
- Alleged sexual advances or conduct got used as a condition for job benefits on the plaintiff’s acceptance. Or employment decisions got based on the plaintiff’s acceptance or rejection of sexual harasser’s conduct or advances.
- Plaintiff got harmed, and the alleged harasser’s conduct was the primary factor in the plaintiff’s injury.
The one element that is used to determine a hostile work environment involving sexual harassment is the severity. And the frequency of the unwanted sexual conduct must be sufficient to be severe. See below for additional elements as follows:
- Context or timing of the conduct.
- The frequency of the events.
- The severity of the actions.
Employers have a duty to ensure a safe workplace. So this includes quid pro quo harassment. It sticks since the harasser is a representative of the organization. And this often results in the company being liable for the supervisor or manager’s actions.
Under the quid pro quo claim, the employee must prove the supervisor or manager sexually harassed the plaintiff. Further, the employer’s sexual satisfaction was a condition of your job. So these have to be unwelcome advances.
The employer’s obligation under California law is to prevent sexual harassment. Suppression in the workplace includes:
- Development and implementation of a sexual harassment policy for supervisors. Also, managers and any other person employed by the company must get trained.
- The California Department of Employment and Housing poster. It must get placed in the workplace where workers can view it.
- Information sheets provided to each employee entailing sexual harassment.
- The employer has a duty to take reasonable steps. The goal is to prevent bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
When the business fails in their duty, the employer may be liable for sexual harassment. So even if the harassment was unknown to management there is a liability. So long as it got promoted by a supervisor, manager or agent there is a case. Also, the person promoting the harassment may also be personally liable. So too will those who aided in the harassment.
If an employee believes they were sexually harassed, the first step is to complain. You must make it clear to the individual their actions are not wanted. The next step is following the employee handbook procedures. That way you can file a complaint with the management staff and employer.
After the company notification, they have a legal duty to investigate the complaint. And they must take action to correct the inappropriate behavior immediately.
California employees have two statutes of limitations attached to a quid pro quo claim. The first deals with the right to bring a lawsuit notice. And this gets filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
So this must become lodged with CDFEH within one year from the date of the alleged sexual harassment. The second statute is filing the lawsuit in state court within the time alloted by law.
Victims of sexual harassment often have a difficult time confronting the perpetrator. And it is especially when it happens in the workplace. There is embarrassment the event occurred and the fear of job loss. The other fear the employee may have is the threat of retaliation.
These three issues make it even harder for the victim to make a complaint. So often, the supervisor or manager sexually harassing gets away with it.
Employees shouldn’t work in an environment where they face threats or encounter lewd behavior. Any sexual advances or demands are not ok. So this may be the perfect time to consult an experienced quid pro quo attorney. Hence, you can speak to an advisor. That way the employee gets made aware of their legal rights and the best way to proceed with a claim.
Claims get filed against the superior that has sexually harassed. Also, claims get filed against the owner of the company. And this is the person who had a duty to protect employees from un-welcome sexual advances or threats.
Are you are the victim of a quid pro quo sexual harassment situation in the workplace? Harassed by a supervisor, manager or agent? If so, you should know your rights under California law. The attorneys at Ehline Law Firm are compassionate. And their commitment is protecting the rights of those sexually harassed in the workplace.
Whether it was by a superior who uses sexual advances, threats or other pressure, we attack. So the employee who fears to lose their job, benefits, promotions or fears reprisal calls us. Contact our experienced lawyers. Learn how we can assist in this type of case at (888) 400-9721.