Published on:

A Federal Judge Denies a New Jersey Employer’s Request for Summary Judgment in Worker’s Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Case

Sexual harassmentIf you’re familiar with Latin words used in the law, you’ve probably heard the phrase “quid pro quo.” Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that basically means “something for something.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a situation in which someone offers improper employment benefits in exchange for sex, or, more commonly, an employee suffers harm on the job as a result of refusing sexual advances. This can be one of the most intimidating forms of sexual harassment, since it places you in fear of losing your income. If you’ve suffered from quid pro quo harassment at work, you should reach out right away to a knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment attorney.

One employee whose case was an example of this type of harassment was Rochelle, an employee of a major auto parts store. The harassment of Rochelle began only two months after she started a sales representative position at the chain’s Newark location. Nicola began telling others that Rochelle was a prostitute. Rochelle complained, but Nicola retaliated by increasing Rochelle’s workload. The store manager also allegedly suspended Rochelle for complaining about the harassment.

Eventually, Rochelle complained to human resources, and they transferred her to the Irvington store. There, the parts sales manager made unwanted sexual advances toward, and contact with, Rochelle. After Rochelle rejected the man’s sexual advances, he retaliated against her at work. When the corporate headquarters learned of the harassment at Irvington, they transferred Rochelle to the East Orange store. The employer also, however, transferred Rochelle’s harasser from Irvington to East Orange. At East Orange, the man retaliated against Rochelle for not giving him sex by cutting her hours from 40 per week to 32. Rochelle also alleged in her lawsuit that she was denied a promotion because she complained to human resources about the harassment.

In the court opinion that denied the employer’s request for a summary judgment in its favor, the judge concluded that Rochelle stated a valid “quid pro quo” sexual harassment claim. Unwanted sexual advances can be the basis of a claim of quid pro quo sexual harassment if submission to those advances is something that the recipient understands is a condition of continued employment (or a condition of avoiding adverse employment decisions). Rochelle’s case asserted that she was punished at work through reduced hours and other means because she did not have sex with the sales manager. That, according to the court, was a viable quid pro quo claim.

Another element was the issue of a “continuing violation.” For some harassed workers, part of the challenge of their cases may be the statute of limitations. Their employers may try to argue that some of the harassment was too old to be part of the employee’s case. The concept of a continuing violation, though, applies when you, as an employee, are a victim of an ongoing, cumulative pattern of harassment. Rochelle’s case alleged that she was the recipient of an ongoing pattern of harassment that was greeted by the employer either with ignoring Rochelle, retaliating against Rochelle for reporting the harassment, or, in at least one instance, suggesting that the correct response was simply to have sex with the manager making the unwanted advances. These assertions were enough to mean that Rochelle’s case fit the definition of a “continuing violation.”

If you have been victimized by sexual harassment by a supervisor at work, do not suffer in silence. Assert your rights by availing yourself of the legal system and getting the compensation you deserve. The diligent New Jersey sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates have been providing reliable advice and strong advocacy to harassed New Jersey workers for many years. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

New Jersey Legislature Considers a Bill that Would Ban Non-Disclosure Agreements in Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Cases, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Dec. 21, 2017

Third Circuit Rules for New Jersey Custodian Who Was Allegedly Harassed by a Foreman Who Controlled the Custodian’s Work Assignments, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Sept. 12, 2017

Photo Credit: Timothy Hale, [CC0 License], via army.mil

Contact Information