We Help Victims of Quid Pro Quo Harassment Hold Employers Responsible
This truly is a watershed year for sexual harassment victims—and in many cases quid pro sexual harassment. For Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, many of these cases hit close to home. Right down the street in Hollywood, many victims came forward—together—with stories about how powerful people often conditioned career-making jobs on the performance of sexual favors—the very definition of quid pro quo harassment.
Quid pro quo harassment is illegal under state and federal law. Whether overt or implied, victims tend to get the gist—if you do something, you’ll get something in return. As a victim, however, understand that proving quid pro quo harassment can pose extremely difficult challenges, and many harassers take steps to plausibly deny that harassment took place. In some instances, quid pro quo harassment cases turn into ugly “he said/she said” battles where it comes down to believing one of two people who participated in a particular incident.
Thus, anyone alleging quid pro quo harassment must retain an experienced attorney.
Victims should not wait to retain a lawyer until filing a case. The things you say and do at work after harassment has taken place but before you file a claim can make an impact on the ultimate resolution of your case.
If you are the victim of quid pro quo harassment or any other type of workplace harassment, we want to talk to you. State and federal law may entitle you to significant compensation for various damages, including lost wages, reinstatement of employment, or a promotion. In some cases, victims can recover compensation for emotional harm, and courts may impose punitive damages in particularly egregious cases. Victims of quid pro quo harassment may even recover compensation if they submitted to their harasser’s demands.
Examples of Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment can happen in many ways. Sometimes, you may not even identify the occurrence as work-related sexual harassment—some demands or requests for sexual favors often happen outside of the workplace. Just because a request happens away from the office or work site does not mean that it isn’t sexual harassment. The following are only some examples of this sexual harassment.
- You go to an interview for a new position. The hiring manager tells you that you are not qualified for the position, but that you are beautiful and if you have sex with him, he will make sure you get the job.
- You are working late and your boss comes into your office. She requests sexual favors and you politely decline. She again makes the request and says that if you say no, she will transfer you to a less desirable department immediately.
- You go to happy hour and your boss is there. He begins aggressively flirting and suggests you go to his house. He tells you that if you do, he will make sure you get the promotion and pay increase for which you applied.
- Your supervisor is determining which employees are going with her to a convention in Hawaii. She mentions that you two could spend some quality time together away from the convention, insinuating that it would involve sexual contact. With such expectations, she then chooses you to go to the convention instead of a coworker.
- You are working the closing bartending shift—and before your manager leaves, he makes a sexual advance. You decline, and the next day, most of your shifts were given to a different employee.
The above examples illustrate how someone in power may request sexual favors and then damage your employment prospects based on your reaction. The possibility of this situation can frighten any employees, knowing that their jobs and futures may depend on how they respond to such demands or requests.
The law forbids any employers from putting employees such positions.
If your boss or supervisor demanded or requested a sexual favor and put your job on the line, you have legal rights whether or not you refuse. Many victims believe that if they agreed to sexual favors, they lose the right to hold their employers accountable. This is not the case. Always discuss what happened with an experienced and compassionate attorney at Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP.
We know these are difficult and traumatic situations to discuss. Our consultations are confidential. We are here to help and understand your situation. Call today to learn more about how we can stand up for your rights.
Requests for Sexual Favors Can Create Hostile Work Environments
Requests for sexual favors do not always come from a boss or directly involve an adverse employment action or employment benefit. In some situations, a coworker with no authority over your job may request or demand sexual acts. Coworkers can often feel attracted to other coworkers, though sometimes the attraction is one-sided.
If a coworker asks you on a date once or suggests you two have sex and you decline, two scenarios may follow. First, if the coworker accepts your refusal and leaves you alone, the request may not constitute sexual harassment under the law. However, a coworker who persists may create a hostile work environment for you.
When someone makes repeated requests for sexual favors despite your refusal, the conduct can quickly become offensive. When offensive conduct is pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment, it rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment. If you notify your employer about the harassment and your employer does not take adequate measures to stop the conduct, you have the right to hold your employer liable.
Many, but not all, requests for sexual favors will constitute quid pro quo harassment. Please call our office to discuss whether your situation involves unlawful sexual harassment so we can evaluate your rights and options.
At Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, we get results for victims of sexual harassment involving requests for sexual favors. Our firm obtained a $1 million settlement for a paralegal whose boss propositioned her and sexually pursued her relentlessly, though she clearly said she was not interested. The employer argued that the paralegal “led on” the boss in a classic case of victim-blaming. We fought for her right to compensation for the harassment.
Our firm also represented a male janitor, who was forced to perform sexual favors on his male supervisor under the threat of termination. We obtained a $585,000 settlement on his behalf to compensate him for the harm he caused.
We work hard for our clients—and we can work hard for you.
When Can an Employer Be Held Liable for Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
An employer can face liability for quid pro quo harassment depending on numerous factors. For one thing, the harasser must supervise the harassed employee.
Next, your attorney may need to determine whether a “tangible employment action” took place. Tangible employment action refers to hiring, firing, demotion, assignment to less desirable job duties, changes to pay, or changes to work schedule. A tangible employment action is generally sufficient to hold the employer liable for the supervisor’s harassment.
If, however, the employee refuses the quid pro quo advances and no tangible employment action takes place, the employer might avoid liability if it had policies in place to deal with sexual harassment and the victim failed to follow the complaint procedure. Specifically, the employer can avoid liability if it can show that:
- The employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior, and that
- The employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise.
Because of this defense, victims must contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney for helping making an official complaint. In many cases, victims hesitate to come forward because they think that no one will believe them, that they will face retaliation, or that their employer or coworkers will judge or blame them, or not take them seriously.
When victims retain an attorney, however, their lawyer will handle every part of their case for them—including communicating with your employer or your employer’s human resources department on your behalf. For this reason, victims should retain a lawyer as soon they suspect that they were victims of workplace harassment. Our sexual harassment attorneys know how to hold employers liable for unlawful behavior Los Angeles, San Francisco, and California workplaces.
An Experienced Attorney Can Protect Your Rights
If you are the victim of quid pro quo workplace harassment, it is easy to feel like you have nowhere to turn and you have no options. While you know that what is happening is morally wrong and against the law, reporting your supervisor to human resources or another boss can feel like an extremely difficult decision. You may feel that YOU are doing something wrong (you aren’t) or that you somehow did something to put yourself in this position (you didn’t). Even with this knowledge, reporting a superior can provoke fear of retaliation. You may worry that people won’t believe you and will forever brand you as a troublemaker or as a person who makes false allegations to get ahead or get free money.
As experienced California sexual harassment lawyers, we find that the overwhelming majority of allegations of unwelcome advances are legitimate and that coming forward is often the most difficult thing that victims will do in their lives. We know that accusing your boss of sexual harassment takes courage, and we are committed to doing everything we can to protect our clients’ rights and aggressively counter attempts at victim-shaming or victim-blaming. We’ve done this long enough to anticipate how defense attorneys will try to characterize a situation and we have the skill and experience to head them off at the pass. As a client of Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, you can rest assured that we will do everything we can to protect your rights and hold your harasser and employer accountable.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a California Lawyer Who Fights Requests for Sexual Favors
If an employer or supervisor conditioned your job, pay, advancement, or other employment-related issues on the performance of sexual favors, speak to an attorney right away. The California sexual harassment lawyers of Winer, Burritt & Tillis, LLP, have recovered more than $200 million on behalf of our clients. We dedicate ourselves to helping sexual harassment victims get the compensation they deserve.
When you come to meet with us for the first time, we will listen to your side of the story without judgment and let you know whether we believe that you have a claim—all at no cost to you. In fact, we will only collect fees if we recover compensation on your behalf.
Our lawyers focus on helping victims from the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas and throughout California. We do not defend people who stand accused of sexual harassment. To schedule your free consultation with a member of our team, call our office today at (510) 283-9113 or send us an email through our online contact form.
**We do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or those who are accused of sexually harassing behavior.