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Quid pro quo harassment in New York

A common type of sexual harassment that may occur in New York workplaces is called quid pro quo harassment. In this form of harassment, an employee's supervisor will make a promotion contingent upon the employee providing sexual favors. Conversely, the supervisor may threaten a negative employment action if the employee refuses sexual advances.

The offer may be direct or may be made through insinuation. The harassment can occur between a hiring manager and an applicant when an offer of a position is made contingent upon a sexual encounter.

In a quid pro quo claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove several elements of the offense. It must be shown that the victim was either an employee or an applicant at the company and that the harasser made sexual advances, engaged in physical conduct or verbally communicated a sexual intent. Additionally, the job or an employment condition of the job must have been predicated on sexual contact, and the harasser must have been working as a supervisor or a representative agent of the company at the time of the incident. Finally, the employee must be able to demonstrate that actual harm was suffered and that the harm resulted from the unwanted sexual conduct of the harasser.

People who have been subjected to such harassment and then have been passed over for a position, demoted or fired may be able to prevail in a quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuit. Through a lawsuit against the company for the harasser's unwanted sexual advances, a prevailing plaintiff may recover compensatory damages for lost employment, lost income and lost benefits. Damages may be available to the plaintiff if emotional distress resulted as well.

Source: Findlaw, "What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?", December 30, 2014

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