“Quid Pro Quo” sexual harassment at California workplace

There are various, although equally despicable and unlawful kinds of sexual harassment that employees may be subjected to at workplace. One type of sexual harassment may take the form of an economic “quid quo pro” where a supervisor’s requests for sexual favors are linked to the grant or denial of job benefits, such as getting or retaining a job, a receiving a favorable performance review, salary raise, promotion, bonus, etc. The typical case involves some for of sexual advance or proposition by a supervisor with an express or implied threat that if the employee refuses, he or she will be terminated or demoted, or lose other job-related benefits; or, the employee may be promised better treatment, such as a promotion, transfer, raise or favorable recommendation, if the employee submits to the sexual advances.

The supervisor’s requests for sexual favors in exchange for a certain benefit do not have to be express to constitute unlawful sexual harassment. It is enough that the individual making the unwelcome sexual advance was the victim’s supervisor, and that a link to employment benefits could be inferred under the circumstances. Such circumstances might include implied statements or simple the fact that the supervisor persists with demands for sexual favors after plaintiff has declined or stated that he or she is not interested in any kind of sexual interaction with the supervisor.

Thus, in one case a female employee was asked to lunch by her supervisor for the sole and express purpose of discussing his upcoming evaluation of her work and possible recommendation of her for a promotion. He allegedly told her that he continued success and employment at the company were dependent upon her agreeing to his sexual demands. His demand amounted to an additional “condition of employment” imposed upon her because of her gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Tomkins v. Public Service Elc. & Gas Co. (1977)