From a young age, your parents or other individuals may have taught you to respect people who hold positions of authority. You may have taken this lesson to heart and now try to remain respectful to individuals in such positions. However, you might question whether this approach applies to authority figures who abuse their power, especially when such abuse takes place on the job.
Unfortunately, a supervisor, manager, administrator or other higher-up individual at your place of employment may have acted in a manner that made you or someone else feel uncomfortable. Regretfully, sexual harassment stands as one type of abuse that may occur in the workplace. When it comes to a superior harassing a lower-ranking employee, his or her actions could fall under quid pro quo harassment.
Quid pro quo
Most individuals use the phrase quid pro quo to mean that they expect another person to do a favor for them in exchange for their doing a favor for the other party.
In cases of quid pro quo sexual harassment, a supervisor or other superior may attempt to gain sexual favors from another employee in exchange for a pay increase, promotion, favorable work hours or other perceived benefits. Additionally, rather than offering benefits, a superior may state that the employee will lose his or her job, not get a promotion or threaten other negative outcomes if he or she does not carry out the sexual acts.
Similarly, a job applicant could face this type of harassment if an individual conducting the interview attempts to exchange sexual favors for the offer of a job.
Making a harassment claim
Rather than feeling as if you must condone this type of behavior in order to keep your job or gain needed benefits, you should report the misconduct immediately. In many cases, other superiors will take the necessary action to address your claim and attend to the situation.
On the other hand, some complaints may go unheeded, and, in such instances, you may feel the need to take legal action. In order to make an effective case for quid pro quo harassment, you must prove:
- Your employment at the time of the incident or incidents
- The harasser made verbal, physical or other unwanted sexual advances
- The harasser offered job benefits or repercussions in change for sexual acts
- The harasser held a position of supervisor or other higher-ranking position with the company
- You suffered harm as a result of the harasser's actions
Because many factors can go into your filing a quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuit and the situation may prove sensitive and distressing to you, you may wish to enlist the assistance of an experienced Rhode Island attorney.