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What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment vs. Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?

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What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is the most familiar form of workplace misconduct. The phrase, Latin for “this for that,” captures the idea behind this type of harassment: an employee must submit to unwelcome advances or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature as a condition of employment or advancement. Unlike hostile work environments sexual harassment, quid pro quo often involves a power imbalance. In many cases, a higher-level employee or even a member of the management team will use quid pro quo harassment against lower-level employees.

An example would be if an employee’s job title or salary was contingent on them accepting certain sexual favors from their employer, such as being propositioned for sex in exchange for favorable job performance reviews or promotions. Quid pro quo harassment can also occur when someone in authority retaliates against an employee who has refused their advances by demoting them, firing them, reducing their hours, etc. The victim doesn’t have to be directly affected to file a claim — anyone who witnesses the behavior can also do so.

If you are being harassed in the workplace, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team at Khosroabadi & Hill would be happy to review your case and let you know what your legal options are. For more information, call today at (858) 434-1020.

What is Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?

Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It’s different from quid pro quo harassment in that it doesn’t involve threats of job loss or advancement in exchange for sexual favors. Instead, it involves pervasive behavior that creates an oppressive work atmosphere.

Examples of hostile work environment harassment include sexual comments, jokes about sex, unwanted touching or advances, and posting inappropriate material in the workplace. A hostile work environment can be created depending on the severity and frequency of these behaviors. It’s important to note that one incident of harassment is not typically enough to create a hostile work environment — it must be pervasive and affect the terms and conditions of employment.

Other examples of hostile work environment sexual harassment include:

  • Verbal comments about someone’s appearance, even if framed as a compliment
  • Any unwanted physical contact
  • Displaying inappropriate messages or images in the workplace
  • Comments or “jokes” that make fun of one particular gender
  • Attachments in emails or memos that are sexually offensive in nature

If you or someone you know has experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment or a hostile work environment, contact us today for more information on your legal options. Our experienced attorneys will provide the knowledge and guidance needed to ensure justice is served.

What Are the Main Differences Between Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment?

These two types of harassment can seem similar. However, they differ enough that they can change how you pursue legal action.

Below are some fundamental differences between quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo harassment is typically perpetrated by authority figures or those in power. Hostile work environment sexual harassment can be done by anyone, including authority figures and lower-level employees.
  • Quid pro quo harassment is always deliberate, while hostile work environment sexual harassment can be deliberate or not.
  • Quid pro quo harassment is generally much more challenging to overcome and pursue action against the perpetrators. Because quid pro quo harassment is so heinous, it is often engrained deep in the company culture.

If you are unsure whether you are experiencing quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment sexual harassment, call our office today. We can help you decide the best legal avenue to pursue to protect your rights in the workplace.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against My Employer for Sexual Harassment?

Yes, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer if you have experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. Depending on the severity of the case, we can help determine what legal options are available to you and assist in filing a claim with the appropriate state or federal agency. Our attorneys understand how difficult it is to speak up against workplace misconduct and will always treat your case with the utmost care and respect. Don’t hesitate — contact us today for more information about your rights as an employee.

In most cases, if you or someone you know has been harassed at work, the best option is first to report it to management or HR. If you are unsure how your company may handle your complaint, bring a legal representative to advocate for you. Many companies have policies in place to punish those exhibiting harassing behavior. Consequences could include suspension of pay or even being fired. However, if you have reported the situation to management and they have chosen to do nothing about it, contact a law attorney to assert your rights.

When Should I Contact a Sexual Harassment Lawyer?

Sexual harassment of any kind in the workplace can be stressful and emotionally exhausting to deal with. Even if you aren’t the one being targeted, an environment that promotes or allows sexual harassment is unacceptable. To protect your peace and hold guilty parties accountable, pursue legal action.

It’s best to contact a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible if you believe you have experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment or hostile work environment sexual harassment. Our attorneys are available 24/7 and can provide you with the legal advice and representation needed during this difficult time. Take action now to protect your rights as an employee and ensure justice is served. Contact Khosroabadi & Hill today at (858) 434-1020 for more information on how we can help.

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