Published on:

What ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Means for You as a Victim of Workplace Sexual Harassment in New Jersey

Sexual harassment is an especially insidious form of workplace misconduct because of the particular extent to which it debases and dehumanizes the victim. This is especially true in one of the two major varieties of sexual harassment, called “quid pro quo” harassment. This type of harassment involves an employer basing employment decisions (hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, number of hours assigned, etc.) on the employee’s willingness or unwillingness to submit to unwanted sexual advances. All workers have a right to perform their jobs without being subjected to these types of unethical behaviors, and to have their work judged on their merit, rather than on the provision (or refusal) of sexual favors. If you have suffered from quid pro quo sexual harassment, or hostile work environment harassment, you should contact an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney promptly about your situation.

“Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase that generally translates to “something for something.” As the courts have clearly indicated, this can exist in more than one possible way. One way is when submitting to such demands is “made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.” (In other words, providing sex becomes part of the arrangement for employment.) The other is when “submission to or rejection of [sex] is used as the basis for employment decisions.” (In other words, the employer takes an employment action regarding an employee because that employee did or did not provide sex.)

All of these types of quid pro quo sexual harassment are illegal under both federal and state laws. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination on several bases, including sex. The law has made it very clear that sexual harassment is a type of discrimination based upon sex. Additionally, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination bars both quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

In order to win a quid pro quo sexual harassment case in New Jersey, you’ll need to prove several things. You’ll need to show that you either refused to provide sex or ceased providing sex and that, as a result of that, you suffered some form of workplace harm (like termination, demotion, refusal to hire, denial of benefits, or refusal of a promotion).

Anti-Sexual Harassment Law Covers Many Types of Victims

Some 20+ years ago, Warner Bros. Pictures had a hit suspense movie that focused on the issue of workplace sexual harassment. The novel twist in the story was that the harasser was female, and the victim was a male subordinate. In the real world, while scenarios involving male harassers and female victims are the most common, sexual harassment can occur in many variations. Even when the alleged victim is male and the alleged harasser is female, or the alleged harasser and victim are of the same sex, an offer or threat related to a quid pro quo arrangement can still constitute illegal sexual harassment in New Jersey.

Another important benefit of New Jersey law in this area is that the alleged victim and harasser do not have to be employee-employer or subordinate-supervisor for the conduct to be illegal and potentially actionable. An important case from 2010 made it clear that the law can protect victims in situations in which the relationship is business owner-client. In that case, the Piscataway branch manager of an equipment rental company allegedly completely ceased to buy tires from a South Plainfield tire shop after the tire shop owner refused the branch manager’s requests for sex. The court’s opinion in this case made it clear that the Law Against Discrimination prohibited this type of conduct because allowing such behavior “would stand as a barrier to women’s ability to do business on an equal footing with men,” and the Law Against Discrimination was intended to eliminate such barriers.

All of these examples above point to one basic point:  basing business or employment decisions on another person’s willingness or unwillingness to provide you with sex is wrong morally, ethically, and legally. If you have suffered harm at work as a result of quid pro quo sexual harassment in New Jersey, consult the skilled New Jersey attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have worked diligently for many years to protect the rights of New Jersey workers to be free of sexual harassment and other forms of workplace discrimination. Contact 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:

A Federal Judge Denies a New Jersey Employer’s Request for Summary Judgment in Worker’s Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 27, 2018

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

Contact Information