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What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in New York?

Sex.Harassment.Angry.Man.Woman.Dollar.Photo.Club.1.17.16.jog.jpgOur New York Employment Law Attorney is often asked to explain the definition of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment. Quid Pro Quo means “this for that” in latin. In short, Quid Pro Quo harassment occurs when an employer demands sexual favors from an employee (or applicant) in exchange for granting a job benefit or the denial of a job benefit where the demand is rejected. The term has been defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute “quid pro quo” sexual harassment when (i) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or (ii) submission to of rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such an individual.” Unlike hostile work environment claims, these scenarios are easier to identify.

Example: For illustrative purposes, a potential scenario follows: if a boss said he would give a subordinate employee a raise only if she went on a date with him.

These claims are different than sexual harassment cases brought under a hostile work environment theory.

Differences between a “Quid Pro Quo” Claim
and a Hostile Work Environment Claim

Sexual.Harassment.Dollar.Photo.Club.3.5.15.jpgPOINT ONE: Quid Pro Quo claims are limited to the sexual harassment cases. Hostile work environment cases can be based on other protected categories including race, national origin, religion and disability.

POINT TWO: The “severe or pervasive” standard that is so important in hostile work environment cases, does not apply here. In Quid Pro Quo claims, a victim has suffered a tangible job loss – in the example above, the employee lost a salary raise. A single instance can form the basis of a claim in a quid pro quo setting.

POINT THREE: Employers cannot raise certain affirmative defenses developed under the US Supreme Court cases – Faragher and Ellerth, which often come into play in hostile work environment cases. If an employee rejects a sexual advance and suffers some tangible job loss as a result, the employer will be liable.

Know.Your.Rights.Dollar.Photo.Club.3.9.15.jpgVictims of quid pro quo sexual harassment can seek compensatory damages (e.g., emotional distress, medical expenses, etc.) and lost wages. Some cases can involve the interplay with other areas of law. For example, some egregious cases have included allegations of assault, battery, false imprisonment and stalking. It is important to obtain counsel from an experienced employment law attorney from the outset. If you have any questions about sexual harassment or your rights in the workplace, contact our Award Winning NY Sexual Harassment Lawyer to learn how to fight back and protect yourself.

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