"Quid Pro Quo" Sexual Harassment
Explained by Nevada Employment Lawyers

Quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment in Nevada is when a person in a senior position communicates to an inferior that his/her job -- or job description -- hangs on whether he/she will comply with sexual acts. It is a kind of employment discrimination in Nevada for a supervisor to condition one's employment or working conditions on giving sexual favors.

Victims of quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment can file a state or federal claim to recover compensatory damages for:

  • pain and suffering (such as emotional distress);
  • loss of past wages and future earnings;
  • medical and therapy payments; and/or
  • attorney's fees and court costs

And if the case goes to trial and the victim wins, the judge may order the defendant(s) to pay punitive damages. This can amount to three times the compensatory damages or more.

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada labor law attorneys discuss:

Go back to our main article on workplace sexual harassment in Nevada.

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A supervisor who conditions employment on sexual favors is committing workplace sexual harassment.

1. Definition of quid pro quo sexual harassment in Nevada

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor indicates to a lower-ranked employee that the employee has to submit to certain sexual demands in order to gain an advantage (such as a promotion or raise) or avoid a disadvantage (such as getting demoted or fired).

One example is a CEO offering the vice-president better working hours and more vacation time in exchange for them sleeping together. Another example is a manager hinting to a new hire that she needs to flash him in order to avoid a bad job review.

Note that quid pro quo sexual harassment can be either explicit (in words or written down) or implied, such as through hints or gestures. Either way, it is a form of employment discrimination.[1]

Also see our article on hostile work environment sexual harassment in Nevada.

2. Who can be sued in quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuits

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Supervisors can be sued for quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Anybody in a supervisory position may be liable for sexual harassment against a lower-ranked employee for offering or threatening to trade sexual favors for workplace favors.

3. Filing a lawsuit or claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment

Victims may be able to resolve harassment situations by reaching out to the company's HR department. But if HR cannot remedy the matter -- or if there is no HR department -- the victim can pursue filing a claim with either of these administrative agencies:

An experienced labor law attorney can guide the victim when deciding which agency to contact. The NERC website has instructions for filing an employment discrimination claim in Nevada. And the EEOC website also has instructions for filing an employment discrimination claim in Nevada.

Victims typically have 300 days after the harassment incident to file a NERC or EEOC claim, but in some cases the time limit is half that. Consequently, victims should consult with an attorney about their matter as soon as possible after the incident.

Victims are encouraged to save as much as evidence as possible of the sexual harassment. The best evidence includes recordings and eyewitnesses of the supervisor asking to trade sex for work favors.

3.1. Mediation

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It may be possible to avoid litigation through mediation.

The NERC and EEOC usually attempt to resolve claims through mediation. Mediation is a form of "alternative dispute resolution" where both the victim and the harasser (or their attorneys) sit at a table, and a trained mediator helps them to hammer out a settlement.

Although mediation is not required, it is highly recommended. It usually speeds up the claims process with the least amount of cost. Read further about NERC mediation processes and EEOC mediation processes.

3.2. Settling the claim

If the victim decides not to use mediation -- or if the mediation is unsuccessful -- then the administrative agency (either NERC or EEOC) will conduct an investigation into the matter and search for evidence. The agencies try to determine the following factors:

  • what the supervisor allegedly said or did that was harassing,
  • the setting where the alleged harassment happened, and
  • the seriousness and frequency of the harassment[2]

If the agency determines that no sexual harassment occurred, or if the victim does not accept any settlement, then the agency will give the victim a "right to sue" letter.

Note that if the victim agrees to a settlement, the victim may have to sign legal releases protecting the supervisor from getting sued for this particular matter.

3.3. Filing a lawsuit

If NERC or EEOC do not succeed in settling a claim, the victim can then sue the supervisor (and possibly the employer) in civil court. Typical claims in sexual harassment cases are:

The majority of cases settle out of court. But in the event the matter proceeds to a trial, the victim (plaintiff) has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed the claims charged.[3]

Also see our article about suing for wrongful termination in Nevada.

4. Damages for quid pro quo sexual harassment

When victims win employment discrimination trials, the judge may order that the defendant pay compensatory damages to cover the victim's:

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Sexual harassment victims may be entitled to front pay, back pay, and other compensatory damages.
  1. back pay;
  2. front pay;
  3. emotional distress and out-of-pocket costs; and/or
  4. punitive damages

The judge might also demand that the supervisor pay the victim's attorney's fees and costs as well. And if the harassment resulted in the victim being fired or otherwise punished, the judge may demand that the victim be reinstated.

3.1. Back pay

Back pay includes all the salary, gratuities, bonuses, and benefits that the victim lost out on because of the harassment. Note that people are expected to make good faith effort to find new work even if they lose a job due to harassment; if victims choose not to find a new job, the court can reduce the back pay damages.

3.2. Front pay

Front pay means loss of future earnings. The purpose of front pay is to reimburse the victim for all the wages he/she will probably lose out on because of the case. Judges deliberate on several factors, including:

  • the victim's age,
  • the challenge of searching for a similar job position,
  • how long the victim was employed, and
  • the length that the victim's employment would have lasted had the harassment not occurred

3.3. Other costs

Depending on the unique facts of the case, the court may order the supervisor to pay for the victim's:

  • emotional distress (also called "pain and suffering"),
  • harm to his/her reputation,
  • medical bills (including psychotherapy pills), and/or
  • costs of searching for a job

Victims should also keep a copy of all their receipts and bills in order to prove what they paid due to the harassment.[4]

3.4. Punitive damages

If the supervisor behaved in an especially shocking way, the judge could also order that the supervisor pay punitive damages. It depends on the case, but punitive damages are often much larger than compensatory damages -- up to three times more in many matters.

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Call our Las Vegas labor law attorneys at 702-DEFENSE today for a FREE consultation.

Call a Nevada labor law attorney...

Have you been the victim of sexual harassment in Nevada? Contact our employment discrimination attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We will do everything to try to reach the most favorable resolution possible in your case, including keeping your job (if you wish) and negotiating a large settlement.

Work in California? See our article about California quid pro quo sexual harassment laws.


Legal References

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; NRS 613.330; See also Ellison v. Brady, 924 F.2d 872 (9th Cir. 1991).
  2. Facts About Sexual Harassment, NERC.
  3. See, e.g., Allum v. Valley Bank, 114 Nev. 1313, 970 P.2d 1062 (1998).
  4. Facts About Sexual Harassment, NERC.

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