Sexual Harassment Lawyers Protecting New York and New Jersey employees from unwanted sexual harassment in the workplace


Although sexual harassment has been defined as any unwelcomed sexual advance or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, demand for sex is the most direct form of sexual harassment. Requests for sexual favors and physical conduct of a sexual nature are deemed so severe that even a single incident may qualify as sexual harassment. If you’re being harassed by being asked or told to perform sexual “favors” in New York or New Jersey, call the sexual harassment attorneys at the Akin Law Group today to discuss your case in detail. The consultation is always free and kept fully confidential.

What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo is a Latin / Legal term which means that you must do something to get something in return. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee’s hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, continued employment or treatment at the job become contingent on his or her participation in sexual acts. Usually, the individual who demands these sexual favors is an employer (business owner), a supervisor (who has the ability to make the employees life on the job easier or more difficult), or even a co-worker (who may be willing to do favors for the victim). Having a direct impact on the employee, quid pro quo sexual harassment is often extreme and has lasting emotional and psychological effects on the victims. Even if an employee has (through coercion or otherwise) agreed to or has already performed any of these sexual acts, the harm that has already been instilled is still illegal and may allow the employee to make a recovery.

Cases of sexual harassment resulting from demand for sex include those in which:

  • Submission to such conduct (regardless of whether it is explicit or implicit) may be made a term or condition of your employment (threat of being fired if you refuse)
  • Submission to, or rejection of such sexual acts may be used as the basis for decisions to promote, demote, terminate, or treat you differently (you may be told that a promotion / raise depends on what you agree to do)
  • Another employee’s submission to sexual advances may give them an unfair advantage (they are given the promotion that you deserve, etc.)

If any of these sound familiar to you, you are the victim of illegal sexual harassment that is classified as Quid Pro Quo and should contact a sexual harassment attorney immediately.

What are examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment in the Workplace?

The most common form of quid pro quo harassment is when an employer or supervisor offers to promote an employee in exchange for a sexual favor. However, there are many other forms of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Several examples are:

  • A manager writes an unfair employee evaluation after the employee refused to engage in a sexual act or refuses to allow the manager to touch them inappropriately
  • A supervisor makes an employee’s raise and promotion contingent upon compliance with sexual demands
  • An employee is treated harshly and threatened with termination for refusing to have sex with her manager
  • A supervisor strongly hints that the employee will get a raise if she dresses in clothes that are more revealing and allows her supervisor to touch her

Quid pro quo sexual harassment can either involve threats to an employee’s continued employment, alter the conditions of employment or offer additional benefits as a reward for engaging in the sexual act. An employer’s threats, regardless of whether they culminate in a tangible employment action, (such as termination, demotion, or suspension) is still wrong. If you believe that you faced an instance of quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace, call a sexual harassment lawyer at Akin Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your case in confidence.

What evidence must a victim present in order to have a successful claim?

In order to prove a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, a victim must provide evidence to prove the following:

  • The alleged harasser made unwanted sexual advances or demands, or engaged in other unwelcome sexual conduct (yes, your word alone may be sufficient).
  • If the employee rejected the harasser’s advances, the terms and/or conditions of his or her employment were adversely impacted (it may be sufficient to show that you believed you would be fired even if they actually were not).
  • If the employee complied with the harasser’s demands, he or she did so because of because of fear of reprisals or a negative impact on her/his employment (you may be able to make a claim even if you already engaged in sexual acts with the harasser).
  • At the time of the incident(s), the harasser was a co-worker, supervisor, manager, or even an agent of the company that the victim worked for (at times, even contractor’s may be covered).
  • The alleged harasser’s actions caused the victim harm (emotional or otherwise). You do not need to be fired from your job; the emotional trauma resulting from the demand may be actionable.

If you believe that you can provide evidence to prove these components, you may be able to successfully claim quid pro quo harassment. Contact a sexual harassment lawyer right away to discuss the details of your case.

Are employers held liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Employers are usually held liable for cases of quid pro quo sexual harassment, because supervisors, managers, or other individuals with power to make employment decisions are considered as agents acting on the behalf of their employers.

New York City Human Rights Law states that an employer is liable for a supervisor or manager’s sexual harassment if the employer knew about it and failed to take action, or should have known about it and failed to prevent it. The employer is considered to have knowledge of sexual harassment or discriminatory conduct when another employee with supervisory power knows about it.

Will employers be ordered to pay punitive damages?

If an employer has been found liable for a supervisor’ sexual misconduct, there will usually be punitive damages assessed against the employer in addition to compensatory damages unless the employer can prove that:

  • It created and complied with policies and procedures intended to detect and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. These policies include but are not limited to:
    • An effective procedure for investigating sexual harassment complaints and for taking action against individuals found to have engaged in sexual misconduct.
    • A firm policy against sexual harassment that was communicated to its employees, agents, and independent contractors.
    • A program to educate employees about sexual harassment.
    • A firm policy allowing the victim to complaint and report sexual harassment without the fear of retaliation or repercussions.
  • It has a record of no, or relatively few, prior incidents of sexual harassment.
  • Was unaware of and did not have ample time to discovery and prevent the sexual harassment complained of.
  • Took immediate action to protect the victim and punish the assailant.

It is illegal to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint?

Many individuals who face quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace are reluctant to contact a lawyer. Because their harassers are generally individuals who are able to make tangible employment decisions, they fear that they will be retaliated against if they complain.

If you have faced quid pro quo harassment in the workplace, you should know that you are legally protected from all forms of retaliation after you have made your complaint. Even if an investigation finds no evidence that harassment occurred, you will remain legally protected from retaliation. Employers who retaliate against individuals who file complaints about illegal workplace practices are violating the law.

Why should you consider contacting a lawyer?

To begin with, the Akin Law Group will provide you an initial consultation that is FREE of charge and absolutely confidential. In addition, you may forever lose some of your rights if you don’t have an attorney protecting you while your employer will most certainly have an attorney working for and protecting the Company.

Sexual harassment may have long lasting effects on you and your family. As such, you should consider legal action as a means of recovering what has been taken from you and what you and your family deserve to recovery; the recovery may include compensatory damages for emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages, lost opportunities, back pay, future economic loss in addition to attorneys’ fees and punitive damages. Additionally, you may be allowed to resume working at your former position if you faced retaliatory discharge. There is no reason why you should forgo compensation for the loss that you were made to suffer.

The importance of timely action cannot be stressed strong enough. Simply stated, if you hesitate for too long, you may lose your chance to recover damages for the sexual harassment that you have endured or may weaken your case. Sexual harassment claims are time-barred; the New York City Commission on Human Rights, for example, requires that complaints be filed within one year of the last alleged act of harassment. In addition, with the passage of time, memories may phase out, important witnesses may disappear, and important documents (e-mails, text messages etc.) may be erased.

In choosing a sexual harassment lawyer, you should take into account his or her knowledge of federal, state, and city laws. Since New York City’s sexual harassment laws offer more protection than state and federal law and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) is more protective than the federal law, it is crucial that you find a firm that is familiar with local laws. The sexual harassment lawyers at Akin Law Group have extensive experience with New York and New Jersey sexual harassment laws, and will vigorously fight to help you obtain the maximum recovery to which you are entitled.

The Akin Law Group: Attorneys serving victims of Sexual Harassment in New York and New Jersey for over 24 years

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly for refusing to engage in sexual acts (regardless of whether the request is explicit or implicit) or, if you have been passed over for a promotion that was given to someone who is sexually engaged with a supervisor, or have otherwise been asked to perform sexual acts by people at your job (regardless of whether you already engaged in these sexual acts), contact the New York and New Jersey employment law firm Akin Law Group, PLLC immediately at 212-825-1400 for a free and confidential consultation. Our sexual harassment attorneys are passionate about protecting employees’ rights and are here to help you recover for the loss that you have sustained. The Akin Law Group is conveniently located on Broadway, in the financial district (NYC / Manhattan).