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Threats and rewards can be features of quid pro quo sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Sexual Harassment At Work

People who experience workplace sexual harassment may try to convince themselves that what they have suffered isn’t that bad. Particularly when someone experiences quid pro quo sexual harassment, the infrequency with which misconduct occurs may leave someone feeling as though they can simply overlook the behavior of a supervisor or other co-worker.

However, quid pro quo sexual harassment can have a profound negative impact on someone’s career. A quid pro quo harassment scenario involves using someone’s employment as leverage to coerce them into engaging in unwanted sexual activity. Quid pro quo harassment can involve the promise of workplace benefits, such as promotions, or it can involve threatening someone with workplace consequences for refusing to acquiesce to advances.

Workplace relationships are subject to many rules

As a general rule, someone’s relationship status should not have much bearing on their employment. A worker’s personal relationships should not influence their career opportunities. However, the line becomes blurry when a relationship involves two people who work for the same company.

Some businesses have clear internal policies forbidding romantic relationships among employees. Other organizations require disclosure about romantic relationships and appropriate paperwork to protect the company from liability should the relationship sour. Regardless of the company’s policy on coworker romances, it is not appropriate for someone in a managerial position or another rule that involves a degree of workplace authority to abuse their power for personal gratification.

How quid pro quo harassment hurts workers

Someone seeking a promotion should not have to submit to unwanted advances in order to move up at the company. An employee’s willingness to engage in certain behavior or at least overlook unwanted flirting should not have any bearing on their annual performance evaluation and eligibility for a raise.

Additionally, workers should not have to worry about punitive actions, including write-ups or terminations, if they reject the advances of someone who has authority over them at their job. Someone experiencing quid pro quo sexual harassment may find that their career development stalls out due to the misconduct of their supervisor or manager. People can even potentially lose their jobs, even after making ethical concessions because of the harassment they have experienced.

Carefully documenting quid pro quo sexual harassment in detail is a key element of fighting back against this common form of workplace misconduct. Reporting the matter to an employer and taking legal action if the employer does not respond appropriately can both be beneficial actions for those who experience quid pro sexual harassment.