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Workplace Harassment
quid pro quo sexual harassment in the federal workplace

Federal law recognizes several kinds of sexual harassment.

One category encompasses comments and behavior that target a person because of their sex. Another type involves unsolicited or unwanted sexual advances.

In this article, we’ll zero in on quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is when someone at work offers you something in return for doing a sexual act for them. 

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is often emotionally traumatizing and overwhelming for the victim.

If you believe you’re facing quid pro quo sexual harassment, you must understand precisely what it is and how to respond. We’ll cover those topics and more in this piece.

If you need more assistance after reading this page, contact a federal employment attorney immediately.   

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

“Quid pro quo” is an old Latin phrase meaning “something given or received for something else.” Hence, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when someone at your work approaches you and demands sexual favors in exchange for something work-related.

The harasser may promise you a promotion or pay raise if you deliver a sexual favor. Another typical example of quid pro quo sexual harassment is one in which the harasser threatens to hurt you or your career unless you do what they want.

Whichever form quid pro quo sexual harassment takes, it constitutes illegal federal workplace harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

How to Prove Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment 

Quid pro quo sexual harassment cases require establishing specific elements to hold your federal employer legally accountable.

These elements may vary slightly depending on the case, but they generally include the following:

  • Protected class membership. You must demonstrate that Title VII gives you legal rights because of your membership in a protected class. Doing this in a quid pro quo case is relatively simple because Title VII prohibits sex-based harassment against everyone. 
  • Unwanted sexual advances from a person in authority. You must be the recipient of unwelcome sexual overtures by someone with power or influence over your position. These advances can come from a manager, supervisor, or a powerful client.  
  • Employment consequences. Next, you need to show that your response to the harasser’s sexual advances had a connection to some aspect of your employment. This could be the promise of a career perk or a threat to your salary, work conditions, or promotion opportunities.
  • The harasser’s conduct is attributable to your employer. Finally, you must show that your agency was liable for the harasser’s actions. You can establish this by delving into the agency’s knowledge of the harassment and what steps they took, if any, to resolve the matter.

Keep in mind that the law protects both existing employees and job applicants.

Therefore, you can bring a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim if an agency official promises you employment if you give in to their sexual advances.

Proving the Elements

You can use different evidence to prove the elements of a quid pro quo claim. Examples include documentary evidence, such as emails, memorandums, informal notes, and meeting minutes.

Statements from witnesses are also incredibly valuable, as are video and audio recordings. One of the best ways to prevail in your sexual harassment claim is always to make notes of any incidents of sexual harassment.

Hiring an attorney also helps you collect valuable evidence because employment attorneys have the tools to obtain useful information from your employer.    

Our Federal Employment Attorneys Can Help You Obtain the Compensation You Deserve

Nobody should have to deal with sexual harassment, especially in the federal workplace. So, when sexual harassment happens, you must act quickly to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

To maximize your chances of succeeding in your legal battle, get legal help immediately. 

However, you shouldn’t go for just any attorney. There are many specialties of law, so one person can’t be an expert in every field. As you can imagine, a tax attorney will be of little assistance to you in a sexual harassment case.

Instead, go with a group of dedicated, passionate federal employment lawyers. Reach out to the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Unlike most other firms, we take on only federal employment cases.

On top of that, we have decades of experience vindicating the rights of employees and holding harassers accountable.

Together, we can work to stop the harassment, bring peace of mind, and restore your career. Just phone us or visit our website to set up a free initial consultation.

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. Mr. Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law with a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Mr. Wersing previously attended the University of Georgia, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Mr. Wersing is an active member of his local community. Mr. Wersing acts as a volunteer attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono legal aid organization of the Houston Bar Association. He is also a member of professional legal organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association and the American Inns of Court. To reach Aaron for a consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.

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