Sexual harassment is not always about lewd gestures

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Posted by Legal Team On November 18, 2015

In many instances of sexual harassment, the signs are quite clear: inappropriate gestures or discussion, unwanted physical contact and perhaps even obscene pictures or emails. Such instances may be some of the most common types of sexual harassment, but they are not the only types of sexual harassment. Some sexual harassment is not so obvious, as it does not appear that one party is being overly aggressive, or that the victim is resisting the actions.

These types of sexual harassment generally fall under the umbrella of what is called quid pro quo sexual harassment. This type of sexual harassment is not about one individual forcing himself or herself on a victim, but about a person in a position of power using that power to blackmail or coerce a victim into performing romantic or sexual favors. For example, if a promotion becomes available, and a woman’s supervisor offers to give her the promotion if she sleeps with him, that is quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment can often be more difficult to tackle than more common types of sexual harassment, primarily because evidence tends to be harder to establish. If an individual consistently gropes or makes inappropriate comments toward a victim, and that victim is clearly uncomfortable with the actions, testimony from co-workers can help establish the validity of the sexual harassment claim. However, when it comes to quid pro quo sexual harassment, many co-workers are not aware that sexual favors are being exchanged for a raise or promotion.

Obviously emails and other correspondence that prove that an individual is granting special opportunities to those who provide sexual favors can help to prove the case, but such evidence does not always exist. Still, your performance at work should be based on your aptitude for the job, and not on your ability to please your boss romantically or sexually. If you believe you are suffering from quid pro quo sexual harassment in California, visit our webpage to learn about your legal options.