Despite widespread news reports of sexual harassment in multiple workplaces, some employers and employees may not understand what the term quid pro quo harassment means. In short, this is a form of unlawful sex discrimination under local, state and federal laws. If you have experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace, it takes a trustworthy employment law attorney to fight for your rights.

At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we believe that all employees are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment. You should be able to come to work and just work. Period. We are well-versed in the applicable anti-harassment laws and have a well-earned reputation for providing our clients with powerful representation. When you consult us, our sexual harassment attorneys will work to right this wrong by helping you obtain just compensation.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination under federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as well as local and state laws including the New York City Human Rights and New York State Human Rights laws.

In sum, workplace sexual harassment can be defined as unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with the performance of an employee’s job, or that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. There are two types of workplace sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
While the focus of this article is quid pro quo harassment, you should know that a hostile work environment arises when an employee is subjected to a pattern of conduct, comments, or visual displays that are severe or pervasive enough to interfere with the victim’s ability to perform his or her job. This type of sexual harassment can affect men and women alike and may involve offensive conduct by supervisors and coworkers, as well as third parties (e.g. customers and vendors).

What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo is a Latin term that translates as “something for something” or “this for that.” In an employment setting, quid pro quo sexual harassment involves an employer, particularly a person in a position of authority (e.g. a business owner, executive, manager, supervisor) making demands for sexual favors or sexual contract from an employee or a job candidate as a condition of employment.

In addition, quid pro quo sexual harassment may occur when such demands are made in exchange for an employment benefit, such as a raise, bonus, promotion. Finally, an employer who takes an adverse employment action (terminating, demoting, reassigning) against an employee for complaining about sexual harassment may also be held liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Examples of Quid Pro Quo Workplace Sexual Harassment

  • A manager offering a candidate a job in exchange for sexual favors or a date
  • A supervisor altering a performance evaluation based on the employee’s willingness to engage in sexual acts
  • An executive offering a raise or promotion to employee in exchange for a sexual favor
  • An employer terminating an employee who refuses to comply with sexual demands or who files a sexual harassment complaint

In short, when a person of authority makes demands of a sexual nature from a candidate or subordinate in exchange for getting or keeping a job or any benefit of employment, there may be grounds for a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, even if there is only one instance of harassment.

How do I file a sexual harassment claim?

If you have been subjected to quid pro quo harassment in the workplace, there are powerful legal remedies under the applicable employment laws. Pursuing a claim under Title VII requires filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or similar state agency. It is important to note that Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. If the claim is not resolved at the agency level, then you can file a civil lawsuit.

Under the applicable local and state laws, however, it is not necessary to file a claim with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit. In addition, the New York State Human Rights Laws cover employers with 4 or more employees (including the owner). Finally, for purposes of sexual harassment claims, the New York City Human Rights Law has been amended to apply to all employers in the city.

Damages You May Recover in a Sexual Harassment Claim?

In a successful quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, you may be awarded damages such as back pay, front pay, and emotional distress. Back pay will be awarded if you were terminated, denied a raise or promotion, or any other adverse action was taken against you after complaining about the harassment. Back pay includes:

  • Lost wages
  • Bonuses
  • Paid time off
  • The monetary value of benefits (e.g. health insurance, retirement benefits)

Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to reinstatement, which means that you must be allowed to return to your previous position. In this situation, you may also be awarded front pay, which is awarded for lost compensation for the period between judgment and reinstatement. If reinstatement is not feasible, then front pay may be awarded in lieu of reinstatement.

Additionally, you may be awarded compensatory damages if we can show that you suffered emotional distress as a result of quid pro quo sexual harassment on the job. Compensatory damages will also be awarded if your reputation has been harmed or you have incurred out-of-pocket costs, such as medical bills for counseling or job search costs.
If your employer was aware of the sexual harassment but failed to take corrective action, you may also be awarded punitive damages. Finally, in a successful sexual harassment claim, you can also recover attorneys’ fees and other legal costs.

Why Choose Lipsky Lowe, LLP For Your Quid Pro Quo Harassment Claim?

Although there is currently increased awareness of workplace sexual harassment and many employers have clearly defined employment policies establishing appropriate conduct in the workplace, quid pro quo sexual harassment continues to be a problem for employees and employers alike.

If you have experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment, our experienced employment law attorneys know that you have concerns about your future and your reputation. We will address those concerns by fully explaining all of your rights and helping you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our legal team also works with employers to develop employment policies designed to prevent sexual harassment and protect them from liability. When you become a client of Lipsky Lowe LLP, you will have strength in your corner. Contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.