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Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in California

Written By: Mo Eldessouky Updated On: July 10, 2024 | Read Time: 6 Minutes

Sexual harassment in any form is illegal. What many people don’t know is that there are different forms of sexual harassment. One form that is not discussed often enough is known as quid pro quo sexual harassment. It is, unfortunately, common in our society, and it is something that needs to be addressed from a legal perspective as well as by society as a whole. 

Today, we will take a look at what quid pro quo sexual harassment is in California, how it can manifest, and what steps you should take if you are the victim of quid pro quo sexual harrassment and its related complications. 

What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in California?

When it comes to the law, there are specific definitions of every term that might be brought into a courtroom. The term “quid pro quo sexual harassment” has a specific definition in California as it relates to legal matters. The legislation that defines what this is in California and why it is important is known as the Equal Housing and Employment Act (FEHA)

This law profits the demand of sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits. It also bars anyone from retaliating against someone else if they refuse to meet such demands. 

The purpose of these laws is to ensure that people are not put in a compromised or uncomfortable situation where they feel pressured to do things sexually that they don’t want to do. It is a criminal action for someone to put another person in such a compromising situation in California. 

In some cases it is abundantly clear that a quid pro quo is in play, and in other situations it might not be quite as clear. Regardless, if one feels like they might be the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment, they should immediately seek the assistance of an attorney. It is not always to identify the situation when you are the one in the midst of it, but an attorney can help their client to understand that they might be in the midst of one of these situations. 

What are Some Examples of Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

It is always a good idea to have some concept of what quid pro quo harassment looks like via concrete examples. When you have some ideas swirling around in your mind about what this type of harassment really looks like, then you know what to be on the lookout for in the event that it happens to you or someone you know. 

Inappropriate Requests for a Date 

Believe it or not, an example of quid pro quo sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily have to appear sexual on the surface to qualify. It can refer to someone being threatened with termination or with the denial of a promotion because they refused to go on a date with a superior at work. While the offending individual might try to make the claim that they had no sexual intent behind their actions, the reality is that putting someone in a compromised situation like that and threatening them by using leverage over them still qualifies as a quid pro quo. 

Inappropriate Jokes of a Sexual Nature with a Threat Applied to Them

It is not acceptable for anyone to tell inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature in the workplace ever. It crosses the line even farther when those jokes are paired with a threat of some kind. In other words, if a superior at work tells an inappropriate joke and makes a threat to an employee’s job or status if that joke is repeated, this could be an example of a quid pro quo. 

In this circumstance, the quid pro quo is the fact that the superior is making a threat to an employee if they were to do the right thing and report the joke that was told at work. It is unfair to put someone in that position and it is against the law to do so. 

Offers of Promotion in Exchange for Sexual Favors

In some cases, a quid pro quo doesn’t have to be the threat of taking something away, but rather the promise of offering something up. It is possible that a superior at work may make a promise of a promotion, a raise, better benefits, or some other advantage to an employee who agrees to provide them with sexual favors. 

This scenario is unfair to everyone involved and potentially quite scaring for the victim. As such, this is a clear quid pro quo situation and should be pursued as such in a court of law. Therefore, anyone who finds themselves in a situation like this should report it immediately. Even if one thinks that they may stand to benefit from teh quid pro quo offered to them, they are ultimately the victim of a crime, and it benefits no one in the long run. 

These are just some examples of what a quid pro quo sexual harassment might look like in the workplace. There are far more examples than one can even imagine, and it is impossible to name them all. That said, these are some common examples that have happened to victims before. If you are the victim of something like this or see it happening to someone else, you should reach out for help immediately. 

Steps to Take if You are Experiencing Quid Pro Quo Harassment

As you might imagine, dealing with a quid pro quo harassment situation in the workplace is extremely sensitive. In fact, puts it best when they say: 

Handling suspicions of Quid Pro Quo harassment requires care, sensitivity, and proactive measures. Whether you’re an employee or a manager, it’s essential to take steps that protect everyone involved and uphold workplace integrity.

These situations should not be shrugged off, and they should be handled with the sensitivity and urgency that they call for. There are specific steps that you should take as an employee. These steps apply if you are the victim or if you are a witness to someone who is being victimized. 

Document the Situation

Keeping a documented record of everything that is happening from start to finish is the best way to ensure that you have something solid to point to when you take a case to court. Not only that, but your attorney will want to review the sequence of events that lead to a compliant being filed. It is by far the best first step that you can take to protect yourself or someone else from becoming the victim of a quid pro quo harassment situation. 

Speak with Someone You Can Trust

There is no question that being the victim of harassment can make a person feel isolated and alone. If you or someone you know is the victim of harassment, then you need to reach out to someone you can trust to talk about it with. It is vitally important to get the word out about what is happening. This type of harassment is often done in a covert way because the aggressor doesn’t want to be found out. It is only once you speak with someone that you know that you can trust that you can begin to feel more confident that your story will get out. 

Refer to the Employee Handbook

There is a wealth of information contained within the employee handbook of the employer that you work for. Refer to that book when you are going through a situation like this to see what the company’s policies are regarding harassment. Even if what you are going through is not specifically outlined in the handbook, that doesn’t necessarily mean that what you are going through isn’t harassment. It may well still fall under the legal definition. Referring to the handbook is just another way to back up your case even more. 

Report the Behavior

Those who feel safe enough to do so should report the behavior as soon as possible. There is always a chance that the aggressor is acting this way towards more people than just yourself. You will want to prevent others from being harmed by their behavior and you will want to put an end to harassment in the workplace. Let the aggressor know that their comments are not welcomed if you feel safe doing so. 

Know Your Rights

No one deserves to be put in a position where they are harassed by anyone. If you believe that this is happening to you or someone else, you should stand up for your rights immediately. Local, state, and national laws can all address the issue and should be properly applied to the situation. 

To address the issue as completely and as professionally as possible, consider hiring an attorney that specializes in this area of the law. He or she can assist you in obtaining the justice that you deserve for what you have been through. Quid pro quo harassment is a serious violation, and it should be addressed with an appropriate level of seriousness. We can help make that happen for you.

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