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How does quid pro quo sexual harassment work?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2023 | Employment Law |

One of the issues with sexual harassment in the workplace is that there can be a major power imbalance. One person may essentially hold the other person’s career in their hands.

This sometimes results in quid pro quo sexual harassment cases. Quid pro quo just means exchanging something for something else. But this can be a very big issue in a workplace environment.

Manipulation of an employee

An example of how quid pro quo sexual harassment could occur is if an employer asks one of their employees for sexual favors or to start an intimate relationship. The employee may not want to do so, but they feel manipulated or coerced because of the power imbalance.

After all, as the employer well knows, that person may be worried that they will lose their job if they refuse their employer’s advances. This is also why many cases of sexual harassment go unreported. People are trying to protect their careers and their livelihoods.

But the employer may use this position against them. For instance, perhaps that employee wants to get a raise. The employer may tell them that they will certainly be given the raise in exchange for those sexual favors. This is the trade of something for something else which gives this type of harassment its name.

What options do employees have?

It can be very difficult for an employee to find themselves in this position. But they need to remember that sexual harassment is illegal, as is retaliation for filing a report – such as firing an employee who reports the harassment. It is important for those involved to understand all of their legal options as they work their way through this complex process.