When a supervisor offers something to an employee in return for a sexual favor, that’s a type of sexual harassment. Specifically, it’s called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, and it’s illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Typically, it occurs when a boss offers an employee a raise, promotion or something else they’ve been seeking if the employee will have sex with them – or even just go out on a date with them. Sometimes the quid pro quo is more of a threat. A manager threatens to demote an employee, assign them an inconvenient schedule or give them a poor performance review if they don’t comply with what they’re asking of them.
It’s important to note that if a manager makes idle threats they never follow up on, that’s not a quid pro quo case. It is, however, still considered sexual harassment in that it creates a hostile work environment.
Employers have a responsibility to investigate any allegations by an employee and take action if necessary. If an employer fails to do that, they can be held legally responsible.
Employers can be held responsible for sexual harassment because they have the power to prevent it or at least minimize the chances of it occurring. It’s crucial to ensure that all employees understand what sexual harassment is. As we’ve shown here, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve inappropriate touching or words.
Employees also need to feel safe in reporting it. They need to know what the procedure is for doing so – whether it happened to them or someone else. They need to know that all allegations will be taken seriously and handled professionally. Retaliation in any way against an employee for reporting sexual harassment is illegal.
If you are drawing up or revising your policy regarding sexual harassment or if you’re dealing with a sexual harassment complaint, it’s wise to have experienced legal guidance to help ensure that you’re in full compliance with the law and protect your business.