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Quid pro quo and sexual harassment claims

California employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment. People do not need to work in a hostile work environment where they are subjected to unwanted sexual advances, sexual assault or other unwanted sexually explicit behavior. If this type of conduct occurs in a workplace and an employee was fired for refusing the sexual advances, then the employee may be entitled to damages.

However, in many cases, sexual harassment is not this overt. It may not be talked about openly or discussed. People don't have to be shown images or told jokes. In some cases, the harassment is the product of implied quid pro quo agreements.

California employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment. People do not need to work in a hostile work environment where they are subjected to unwanted sexual advances, sexual assault or other unwanted sexually explicit behavior. If this type of conduct occurs in a workplace and an employee was fired for refusing the sexual advances, then the employee may be entitled to damages.

However, in many cases, sexual harassment is not this overt. It may not be talked about openly or discussed. People don't have to be shown images or told jokes. In some cases, the harassment is the product of implied quid pro quo agreements.

Quid pro quo literally means "something for something." These arrangements occur when employers imply or promise a particular outcome in return for sexual favors. The outcome could be a promotion, a raise, hiring or not firing a particular employee. In these cases, if the employee performs a sexual favor, the employee will receive something in return.

If an employee can prove several elements, then that employee may be able to file a sexual harassment claim. First, this exchange must occur within the context of an employer-employee relationship and involve sexual conduct. Second, some job benefits must be conditional on the rejection or acceptance of the sexual conduct. Finally, the conduct must have caused harm to the victim.

If these elements can be shown, employees can receive a variety of damages. These damages include lost benefits, lost wages and emotional damages. An attorney can help people determine which damages may be available and if they qualify for them.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?," accessed June 28, 2015

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