Taking an In-Depth Look at Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Even during Covid-19, women have suffered sexual harassment in the workplace.
In a 2021 survey by Rights of Women, 45% of women experience remote sexual harassment. It includes online sexual messages, sexual calls, and cyber harassment.
A lot of cases go unreported for a range of reasons. Employees fear losing their jobs. Some workers are unaware that sexual harassment has occurred. Some don't even know that several laws exist to protect them.
To this end, we're discussing one of the two types of workplace sexual harassment. The quid pro quo harassment.
What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
Quid pro quo is Latin for "something for something." It's a type of sexual harassment identified by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In this category of sexual misconduct, someone professionally superior may request sexual favors. Or they may imply it in exchange for potential advantages in the workplace.
These advantages may include pay raises, promotions, or even potential hiring. But what if the employee says no? The supervisor may also leverage possible dismissal, demotion, pay cut, or reprisal.
The EEOC does not prohibit an instance of harmless teasing or even offhand comments. But, an incident can be construed as quid pro quo harassment. If it involves conditions of employment or hiring, they can be reported.
Under quid pro quo, an employer is also held liable for the actions of its supervisors. Why? Because an employer is considered acting on the employer's behalf.
How Can Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Happen at Work?
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can happen in many ways.
For instance, a supervisor may dangle poor performance evaluations in exchange for sexual favors.
Hiring managers may proposition job candidates for a date. Or they may ask for sexual benefits to secure their positions.
Sexual misconduct may also fall under the other type of harassment. This is known as a hostile work environment.
What Happens If I Report Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
Companies and organizations are mandated to have anti-discrimination and harassment policies. These policies should outline what sexual misconducts are, investigation procedures, and disciplinary actions.
Despite these policies, workers are often discouraged from reporting sexual harassment. According to this study, a whopping 99.8% of workers never file formal charges.
The primary deterrent to such reporting cases is fear of retaliation. Supervisors or the company may "punish" them for defamation. Other than that, victims also report distrust in the investigation process.
Even in the wake of a false sexual harassment claim, employers are not allowed to retaliate.
Retaliation can take many forms, aside from the usual ways we see retaliation. For example, an employer may subtly create a distressing environment for the complainant. How? By changing their shifts to disrupt their work-life balance.
Preventing Quid Pro Quo Harassment in the Workplace
Harassment of any form affects companies in many ways—none of them positive.
Workers suffer the most when companies fail to address workplace sexual harassment. It results in performance issues, absenteeism, and mental and emotional issues. It can even result in physical deterioration or eventual resignation.
A key component to combating sexual harassment at work is education. Equipping workers with adequate knowledge and invoking change through empathy encourages introspection. Doing so nudges individuals to contemplate behavior change or spur them into action.
For a training program that's proven effective, we offer Common Ground Business 2, a multi-awarded and research and evidence-based course on anti-harassment initiatives. This training covers harassment, sexual harassment, and abusive conduct.
Start a chapter today with our free demo.