Is your boss’s flirting quid pro quo sexual harassment?

When your boss hits on you, it may make you uncomfortable. Constant unwanted flirting often leads to claims of a hostile work environment. When coworkers are the ones flirting, someone can feel unsafe or stressed out while at work.

Flirting by someone in the position of authority can sometimes constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment because the victim may feel like their job is at risk. In quid pro quo sexual harassment, someone in a position of authority uses their position as leverage to request a date or sexual favors. When does your boss’s flirting cross that line?

When they joke about it affecting your job

Perhaps the flirting is all very tongue-in-cheek, with them occasionally cracking jokes about it. However, if the jokes imply some kind of threat against your job or seemingly offer a career-based reward for your consent, your boss’s attempt at flirtatious humor could amount to harassment.

When the flirting occurs during important career moments

Sometimes, casual flirting doesn’t seem problematic until it happens in a situation where you feel vulnerable. Someone in a position of authority should know better than to flirt with you when your conversation could affect your career trajectory.

If your supervisor jokingly suggests that the two of you go out on a date right as they talk about a written reprimand, you may feel like you have no choice but to agree. You may feel pressured to reciprocate flirtatious statements if they occurred during your annual performance review.

Understanding when advances from a supervisor or boss become quid pro quo sexual harassment can help you protect your job and your dignity.



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