What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment is referred to the abuse of power practiced by an employer or a superior on an employee to gain sexual favors in return of employment benefits. It’s done in direct violation of Title VII, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on sex.
While most cases of quid pro quo sexual harassment involve a male predator exercising the abuse of his power on a female employee, it can go either way. All kind of genders, groups and company roles are known to take part in the scheme.
Here’s an example of quid pro quo sexual harassment:
Elena’s boss has asked her out on a date on multiple occasions. While she keeps putting him down swiftly, he keeps insisting, insinuating that he could make things difficult for her. Elena is known to be an outperforming employee by all her co workers. While everybody was expecting of her to take the team leader Bonnie’s position when she leaves the organization, when the time came she didn’t get the promotion. Instead, another lesser able colleague was promoted to fill the position, even though her performance was much better than his. When Elena confronted her boss regarding this, he told her that she wasn’t leadership material.
Here’s another one:
Sam is known to take too many leaves at his office, everybody was under the impression that he is out of his paid leaves and that his salary is being deducted for his absence. Then one day, when the HR informed everybody about their leaves, one of the employees pointed out that there’s no way Sam has so many paid leaves remaining and that there must be an error in the documentation. But the HR tried to distract from the issue explaining that it was a long time ago and that he’s collected more leaves since then.
Identifying Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Since these issues are sensitive in nature, and these proposals offered behind closed doors, it can be hard to identify these instances from a third person perspective. As this kind of harassment is very insidious in nature, employees often feel confused about whether something actually happened or not. Even if the hints are clear, they find it hard to report the problem since the threats are not direct.
Even though the threats and actions are not visible and victims won’t come forward, there are still some signs that can be spotted:
- Performance appraisals seem biased towards one or more particular employees.
- Frequent pay hikes to some employees regardless of weak performances.
- Granting promotions to undeserving employees.
- Unofficial tasks being offered to someone on a regular basis.
- Out of office romantic relationships between an employee and his/her superior.
The Burden of Proof
Unlike hostile work environment where suer has to prove the actions to be severely pervasive or hostile in nature, quid pro quo harassment requires only the proof that the action resulted due to a refusal of unethical requests. This is because the action itself would violate the terms and conditions of the employment. So if a manager puts forward an unethical condition in exchange of authorizing a deserving promotion, the suer need not prove the refusal of promotion to be hostile in nature. The proof of the unethical request in question will be enough to hold the manager accountable in violation of terms of employment and Title VII.
Handling Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment and Complaints
It is the duty of an employer to handle employee complaints properly, either do it himself or appoint someone to do it. Failure to address these concerns would lead towards the most feared consequences for the company, like high turnover, loss of great talent, damage to company reputation and million dollar harassment lawsuits.
Most employees that come forward, insist on their complaints be reviewed and addressed confidentially. This is due to fear of retaliation, fear of losing their job, an embarrassment in front of their colleagues, and mental harm.
Don’t promise anonymity unless you are sure that you can provide it. It’s always ideal to comfort the victim that you will do your best to address the issue without having them come forward, but also let them know that their statement could ensure a resolution.
Implement YourSafeHub in your organization to allow your employees to report these issues anonymously without revealing their identity. This will allow victims that otherwise keep these issues to themselves to come forward. It will allow the company to handle and address these complaints effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, it will prevent these instances from happening in the first place, and reduce the risk of company reputation being harmed with those million dollar lawsuits.
Preventing Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
In order to prevent quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace, managers need to be on the lookout for all the signs and work towards an effective harassment prevention strategy. Here are a few tips to prevent quid pro quo sexual harassment in your workplace:
- Create strict zero tolerance anti-harassment policies and make sure everyone gets the message.
- Every lunchroom in a workplace should have a set of guidelines hung on the wall describing the behavior that’s expected of every employee of the organization.
- Conduct training and awareness sessions with your employees to help them better understand the consequences and prevention of harassment in the workplace. You can also employ third-party organizations to provide professional training.
- Conduct thorough and effective investigations towards every claim that is filed.
- Quite often these issues go unreported and unacknowledged due to their sensitive nature. Employ YourSafeHub in your organization to provide your employees with a safe and secure anonymous reporting system to report such sensitive issues.