Quid Pro Quo in Texas

What Is a Quid Pro Quo?

The term “quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” Originally used throughout the Middle Ages, it has come to have a new meaning in modern times.

Professionally, quid pro quo can refer to an agreement of reciprocal exchange between two parties. In simple terms, this means one party receives something in exchange for something else.

In a business setting, this Latin term may mean that a product, good, or service will be traded for something of equal value. However, when this agreement style is misused, it can quickly turn into harassment. An inappropriate exchange of services can fall into the realm of bribery or illegal conduct.

If you believe you have been subjected to quid pro quo harassment at your workplace, we urge you to speak with one of our employment lawyers at The Galo Law Firm. With legal advice from an experienced workplace harassment attorney, the victims of quid pro quo abuse can hold their harassers accountable and recover compensation for the damages they’ve endured.

Is a Quid Pro Quo Legal?

Sometimes quid pro quo is legal, however, with bribery, blackmail, or unwanted sexual advances, a quid pro quo can turn from a legitimate business arrangement to workplace harassment. Even if a quid pro quo is considered legal, it can still be viewed unfavorably.

When quid pro quo is done with consideration of both parties and in a fair and non-harassing manner, it can be legal.

Understanding Quid Pro Quo

Not all quid pro quo agreements imply misconduct. If the reciprocal exchange is agreed upon with considerations of goods, services, or money, the arrangement can be valid. Legitimate quid pro quo agreements are typically done via contracts or other forms of workplace agreements.

If any quid pro quo arrangements appear to be unjust, a court may find it as an invalid agreement, or in other cases illegal workplace conduct.

If the arrangement involves unethical requests, it is no longer a business agreement, but will more than likely be considered workplace harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment is defined as an inappropriate request in exchange for a job-related benefit. Frequent instances of quid pro quo harassment involve requests for sexual favors for a benefit at work.

Anyone can be the target of quid pro quo harassment, and anyone in a position of power can be a perpetrator.

In these situations, the target of this harassment is put in a position where they have to either comply with the request to receive a benefit or suffer a consequence if the request is denied.

Although quid pro quo harassment is not always sexual, it is rare for a supervisor to make a harassing request that is not based on the target’s sex. Instances of non-sexual workplace harassment can be based on an employee’s religion, political ideology, or other personal factors.

Common proposed benefits in quid pro quo workplace harassment can include:

  • Pay increase
  • Promotion
  • A favorable evaluation
  • Securing an employment opportunity
  • Advancing in the interview process
  • Preventing a demotion
  • Keeping a job
  • Avoiding a transfer
  • Avoiding an adverse employment decision

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Workplace sexual harassment is considered a type of sexual discrimination which violates federal employment law. Both the Texas Labor Code and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibit sexual harassment. These laws apply to businesses with a minimum of 15 employees.

Workplace sexual harassment applies to all inappropriate interactions of a romantic or sexual nature at work. This can include requesting a kiss, a date, or any intimate contact, such as a hug or a massage. In more extreme cases, the harassment can involve explicit requests or sexual favors, such as intercourse or performing sexual acts.

In cases of quid pro quo sexual harassment, a workplace benefit is withheld unless the individual complies with the sexual favor. The intentions of the exchange may be obvious or suggested.

Typically, the person requesting a sexual favor is the employee’s direct manager, supervisor, or superior. Their superior position creates a power dynamic that can easily be abused. There are cases where a colleague may threaten a coworker through quid pro quo harassment.

An employer can only be held accountable for quid pro quo harassment if the person who carried out the harassment has workplace superiority or can influence employment decisions over the targeted employee. Frequently, quid pro quo harassment is committed by someone with the authority to act for the company, such as managers, supervisors, or directors.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment can be indirect. The person receiving the sexual favor may not be the person making the request. For example, an employer may pressure an employee to make sexual advances in order to secure a deal. An employer can also threaten withholding commission if an employee does not perform sexual favors for a client.

What if the Quid Pro Quo is Denied?

If the target of the quid pro quo refuses to commit the sexual favor or turns down any unwanted sexual advances, it can still be grounds for a harassment claim if the target was subject to a tangible employment action as an outcome.

Not all disadvantages at work are tangible employment actions. However, the following consequences can justify a harassment suit.

  • Demotion
  • Termination
  • Pay cut
  • Reducing job benefits
  • Refusing to promote
  • Rejected a pay raise
  • An undesirable reassignment (To show undesirable reassignment, the court must identify a negative difference in the worker’s job title, work responsibilities, payment, or working conditions.)

Adverse actions that are not considered tangible employment may involve:

  • Threatening to fire the employee
  • Creating any inconvenience for the employee
  • Denying coverage for work-related travel costs

To support a sexual harassment complaint, damages must be connected to the refused request. A shorter time frame between the refusal and the backlash can be powerful evidence that the two are related.

In most states, a short period between the refusal and the negative repercussions for the employee can be enough to file a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim. If the employer offers proof that the employment action was because of genuine and non-harassing reasons, then the employee will have to show further evidence.

If a sexual advance or favor is denied, and no adverse employment actions or official acts follow, it is not considered quid pro quo harassment. Under quid pro quo harassment law, there must be a connection between unwanted sexual conduct and a workplace benefit or repercussion. If there aren’t any consequences for rejecting the demands, then there is no hook between the two.

Proving Quid Pro Quo Harassment in Texas

Under quid pro quo harassment laws, senior management holds the same liability as an employer. Managers and superiors are seen as acting for the company and can be liable for harassing any workers under their supervision.

When filing a claim, it is the responsibility of the worker to prove that unwanted advances are connected to changed conditions of their employment. Such proof may involve a personal statement, written records, or statements from coworkers. 

Workplace harassment cases frequently become a “he said, she said” situation, so it’s crucial to keep track of any solid proof you can supply and be aware of your workplace sexual harassment policy.

In Texas, a quid pro quo claim typically requires the employee to prove the following:

  • They were an employee
  • The harasser was a superior
  • Unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate conduct was made
  • Working conditions depended on the employee accepting the harasser’s advances
  • The employee suffered harm because of the conduct

It is important to note that an employee who complies with sexual advances or harassment may still pursue legal action.

If an employee successfully shows quid pro quo harassment, they can receive compensation for their damages. This can include any lost pay, compensatory damages, emotional damages, or punitive damages. Along with receiving financial compensation, a successful case can get an employee reinstated if they have been fired. 

Contact a Quid Pro Quo Harassment Attorney 

If you have been the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment in a Texas workplace, don’t hesitate to contact the Galo Law Firm to assess your case. With the commitment from our team of employment attorneys, you can be sure that we’ll do what we can to protect your rights.

At Galo Law Firm, we can assess your case and help you file a claim to recover any compensation you are due. Our lawyers have years of experience helping clients face their workplace harassment cases. 

We know how upsetting harassment in the workplace can be. Our law firm is dedicated to defending workers´ rights and helping any wronged employee get back on their feet. 

Whether you have any general questions, would like to speak directly with a lawyer, or wish to schedule an appointment, call 210-361-8043 today.

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