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An in-depth look at quid pro quo harassment in the workplace

| Mar 25, 2021 | Employment Law

Not long ago, this Oregon-based employment law blog discussed sexual harassment and what it may look like in various work environments. While some instances of sexual harassment may be obvious, others may be hidden in the cultures and practices of individual industries and employers. Generally, though, sexual harassment can be categorized into two distinct forms: hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment.

This informational post will discuss quid pro quo harassment. It will speak generally to the elements that must be proven to demonstrate that quid pro quo harassment has occurred. It does not provide any legal guidance to its readers. When individuals suspect that they have suffered sexual harassment at work, they are encouraged to seek the counsel of trusted employment law attorneys for guidance and representation.

The elements of a quid pro quo harassment claim

Quid pro quo harassment is a form of harassment based on an exchange. Often, a supervisor or agent of an employer will condition an employee’s promotion, raise, or work benefit on that employee’s agreement to engage in a sexual favor with the supervisor or agent. The general elements of quid pro quo harassment include:

  • Employment: The victim must have been an employee of the employer, or an applicant to work for the employer, when the harassment happened. The harasser must have been employed by or an agent of the employer as well.
  • Sexually conditioned harassment: The harasser must have conditioned a work benefit or action based on the victim’s acquiescence to a sexually oriented favor.
  • Causation and harm: The victim must have suffered harm as a result of the harassment and the harasser must have been the cause of the victim’s harm.

It is important that victims of quid pro quo harassment seek legal assistance to fully understand the specifics of these general concepts under the law.

What a victim may get back if they prevail on a quid pro quo claim

Quid pro quo harassment can be damaging to victims on many levels, including their employment and livelihood. Some may feel as though they cannot turn down conditions from their supervisors without putting their employment into jeopardy. When a victim is harmed by quid pro quo harassment, they may be able to seek a range of damages including lost wages and benefits, to punitive damages against the employer. The details of specific quid quo pro claims will dictate how they resolve, and no reader should rely on this post as legal advice for their case.