Sexual Harassment Showdown: Quid Pro Quo Vs. Hostile Work Environment

Sadly, sexual harassment in the workplace is all too common. Some even snicker at the thought of it. Crude jokes and degrading gender-based comments often come to mind. While some still consider this form of harassment a joke, you must understand how serious sexual harassment can be within a company.

To fully appreciate the gravity of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s absolutely vital to educate oneself about the topic. Not only must a business owner understand this problem, all supervisors and employees must, too.

To do so, we’ll take a look at a few types sexual harassment:

What is Quid-Pro-Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid-pro-quo sexual harassment is your typical sleazy supervisor taking advantage of his or her power in the company to potentially find sexual favors from employees. In most cases, a form of employment benefit is offered in return for some type of sexual favor.

In many cases, a supervisor may offer or hint at a promotion if an employee engages in his or her sexual demands. While common, this type of sexual harassment can be difficult to prove in court without witnesses, recordings or emails.

What is Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?

Another form of sexual harassment is hostile work environment. Much different than quid-pro-quo – hostile work environment sexual harassment often relates to lewd conduct or culture. Instances of this form of harassment include:

  • Sexual jokes
  • Displaying sexually offensive materials
  • Unwanted advances

…And much more!

In this form of harassment, the frequency of the act is considered in court. One unwanted advance that was not reciprocated rarely holds up in the court of law (i.e. asking a co-worker on a date and getting rejected). However, if the advances are consistent, then the work environment can become hostile (i.e. asking a co-worker for a date every single day).

How to Discern Between the Two

It’s fairly simple to decide if a sexual harassment case is of the quid-pro-quo or hostile work environment variety. The cases are rarely similar. Overlap only occurs if a supervisor is using his or her position to get sexual favors while also creating or allowing a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment Training in Kansas City

In order to protect your business, most legal experts recommend employers take action before any behaviors considered inappropriate become legal issues. The best way to start doing so is through mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees. Next, you’ll want a great sexual harassment lawyer to help you craft policies and procedures relating to harassment in the workplace.

If you’re a company in the Kansas City area looking to cover all your legal bases, we can help. At Hollingshead, Paulus, Eccher & Fry, we strive to be the premier sexual harassment lawyers for companies in KC. We look forward to helping you through a troubling time or keeping you prepared.