Quid pro quo harassment in the workplace occurs when a supervisor or manager demands some sort of favor – often sexual – from a subordinate employee or a job applicant and promises a favorable action in response or threatens an adverse action if they do not comply. “Quid pro quo” is Latin for “something for something.”
Tolerating harassment in a workplace jeopardizes a business’s productivity and performance in addition to being harmful to the well-being of employees. Under federal guidelines, a single “quid pro quo” advance may be considered harassment if it is linked to an employment benefit.
At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we help employees in Florida put an end to quid pro quo harassment directed at them or others where they work. If you have been illegally harassed in the workplace, you may be eligible for compensation and other remedies. Over the last decade, our law firm has helped hundreds of hardworking people like you put an end to workplace harassment. With our attorneys guiding you, you will know you have aggressive, dedicated advocates who will fight hard for the best possible result in your case.
Reach out to a Tallahassee quid pro quo harassment attorney at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., for a free and confidential evaluation of your case. We can review your situation, explain your options, and tell you what we can do on your behalf.
Definition of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
An easy-to-understand definition of quid pro quo harassment is a manager or supervisor asking for sexual favors in return for favorable job decisions related to promotions, raises, hiring, or performance reviews. Typically, an employer, manager, co-worker, or even a client or vendor will try to use their position to demand sexual favors or gratification from someone in a subservient role.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers to allow anyone to be sexually harassed in the workplace. It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for reporting or speaking out against sexual harassment or for participating in an investigation or legal action related to sexual harassment.
Differences Between Types of Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace may take the form of quid pro quo harassment or a hostile work environment.
Hostile workplace sexual harassment is a pervasive atmosphere of unwelcome comments or conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with work performance. It is not tied to stated or implied threats or promises of job actions in exchange for sexual favors.
Examples of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Some common scenarios of quid pro quo sexual harassment include a boss, supervisor, manager, or other person in a position of influence:
- Demanding sexual favors in exchange for a favorable hiring decision, a promotion, a raise, or a sought-after job assignment.
- Threatening to terminate, demote, or give a negative performance review to a subordinate employee who refuses to provide sexual favors or who ends a romantic relationship.
- Promising to withhold punishment in exchange for sexual favors.
- Promising or giving an employee a raise, promotion, or an exclusive perk, such as travel to attend a work conference in an exotic location, in expectation of the employee repaying the favor with sexual activity.
- Modifying job performance expectations because a subordinate refuses repeated requests for a date.
If you have been subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment at your Florida place of employment, Cruz Law Firm can help you file a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An employee may still file a claim even if they submitted to an inappropriate quid pro quo demand. A company can be found liable even if the harasser failed to follow through on threats.
The EEOC will investigate your claim with the objective of ending harassment at your workplace and negotiating a resolution to your complaint. This may include an agreement for the company to compensate you for what you have been unjustly put through.
If mediation doesn’t resolve your claim to your satisfaction, the EEOC will investigate further and, if the examiner finds cause, issue a Notice of Right to Sue. If you are allowed to file a lawsuit for quid pro quo sexual harassment, the suit will be against your employer for allowing sexual harassment in the workplace. A suit does not target the individual who harassed you.
What Does Filing a Quid Pro Quo Harassment Claim Do for You
A lawsuit filed by the Cruz Law Firm in your name would demand an end to the sexual harassment at your place of employment and compensation for you. Compensation that may be available in a sexual harassment lawsuit include:
- Back pay and front pay to compensate you for wages lost as a result of being sexually harassed. Back pay is the wages, benefits, and other compensation you would have earned from the time of the negative employment decision up to the date of a settlement or jury award. Front pay may be awarded in lieu of pay you would have received if hired, retained, or promoted to a position that is no longer available.
- Pain and suffering compensation for the emotional anguish the harassment caused you.
- Compensation for harm to your reputation.
- Compensation for any out-of-pocket costs caused by the harassment, such as medical bills (e.g., for counseling) and job search costs.
- Punitive damages to punish your employer for failing to stop the harassment and to indicate to other employers that such conduct will not be tolerated.
How Florida Law Applies
Florida limits pain and suffering damages to $30,000 in sexual harassment cases unless there is medical evidence of harm or special circumstances. Punitive damages are limited to $100,000.
Under federal law, the total amount of compensatory and punitive damages available depends on the number of employees in the company:
- For employers with 15-100 employees, the limit is $50,000.
- For employers with 101-200 employees, the limit is $100,000.
- For employers with 201-500 employees, the limit is $200,000.
- For employers with more than 500 employees, the limit is $300,000.
However, the federal limit on damages does not apply to an award of front pay.
How to Prove Quid Pro Quo Harassment
To prove a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, your lawsuit must show that:
- You were an employee or a job applicant at the defendant company when the alleged harassment occurred
- The alleged harasser was a supervisor or agent of the company when the alleged harassment occurred
- The alleged harasser made unwelcome sexual advances toward you or engaged in other unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
- The alleged harasser conditioned certain employment benefits or employment decisions on your acceptance of the harasser’s sexual advances or conduct
- The alleged conduct harmed you and resulted in a significant negative employment action
- The alleged harasser’s conduct harmed you.
Recognizing the Signs
Some people truly do not understand that what they are doing is wrong.
If you feel safe communicating with the harasser, some form of “please stop” should put an end to all unwanted solicitations or sexual advances and harassment. If that doesn’t work, put your request to cease all uninvited sexual advances or conduct in writing, noting that you previously asked them verbally. Keep a copy of your message.
Steps to Take if You Suspect You Are a Victim of Quid Pro Quo Harassment
There are steps you can take to prepare for a claim. You should:
- Report the problem. Inform the person just above the harasser in your company’s chain of command or your company’s human resources director, and describe what you have done to try to stop the unwanted conduct. Follow up in writing. If your company has written procedures for making a complaint, follow them.
- Document your complaints. In addition to saving copies of emails or other correspondence with management, write out what has happened to you and how it has affected you. Include as many specifics as possible – names, places, and dates – and what you’ve done to compel the harasser to stop or to report the harassment to managers or the human resources office.
- Gather allies. Find any co-workers who have experienced similar harassment in the same workplace.
- Protect yourself. Obtain copies of your personnel record, performance reviews, customer feedback, awards and citations, and applications for promotions to demonstrate that you were an employee in good standing with the company prior to being harassed.
- Contact an attorney. If Cruz Law Firm represents you in a quid pro quo harassment claim, we will obtain official documents from your employer as part of the process of litigating your complaint.
How Cruz Law Firm, P.S. Can Assist in Tallahassee, FL
No one should have to endure uninvited sexual harassment or sexual propositions in the workplace just to make a living. If you have been issued sexual demands as a requirement for hiring, continued employment, or occupational advancement, a sexual harassment lawyer with Cruz Law Firm in Tallahassee can help you hold your employer accountable for this illegal conduct.
Speak to Cruz Law about filing an EEOC claim and following up with a lawsuit on your behalf if federal authorities cannot reach a settlement suitable to you. We may be able to help you seek compensation for lost wages, loss of reputation, and emotional distress and suffering. In some cases, we may also ask the court to order punitive damages to punish an employer who turned a blind eye to quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Talk to Our Tallahassee Quid Pro Quo Harassment Lawyers
Contact Cruz Law Firm online or call (850) 518-6319 today for a free and confidential consultation about your legal rights. We stand up for hard-working employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle.