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Did your boss ask you for a "favor" in exchange for something?

It used to be fairly commonplace to hear stories of a woman's boss wanting sexual favors in exchange for something such as a promotion or a raise. Hollywood starlets believed the "casting couch" was just the way directors and producers handed out parts in movies. Then, just as it is now, this behavior is quid pro quo sexual harassment. The Latin translates to "something for something." In the workplace, this has most often meant sex for [insert what you want here].

Now, in a society in which men and women are on more equal footing than in the past, it may be a female boss requesting sexual favors from a male employee. In fact, the parties involved don't even have to be of the opposite sex. No matter whom the parties involved are, this form of sexual harassment violates federal and Oregon laws regarding sexual harassment.

Proving quid pro quo sexual harassment

If your boss, supervisor or someone else with authority over you in the workplace agreed to give you something such as a raise or promotion if you agreed to engage in sexual activities with him or her, you have rights and potential legal options. If you reported the individual, but the company failed to resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you may file a complaint in which you must prove the following:

  • You were an employee with the company
  • Your boss worked for the same company
  • Your boss requested sexual favors or engaged in unwanted sexual conduct
  • An employment decision hinged on your participation in sexual activities
  • Someone promised a benefit to you if you participated in sexual activities
  • You suffered harm
  • Your harm resulted from the conduct of your boss

The element of harm is vital. You will need to show that you lost your job or that your boss passed you over for a promotion, raise or some other benefit because you refused your boss' offer.

What damages you may seek

If your case warrants the filing of a complaint, you could seek the following monetary and non-monetary damages:

  • Your lost employment opportunities
  • Your lost income
  • Your lost benefits
  • Your emotional distress
  • Your reinstatement as an employee

Even though it doesn't happen often, your case may meet the requirements for imposing punitive damages, especially if the conduct was particularly egregious, or the company failed to address the situation or somehow condoned your boss' behavior. Before filing any lawsuit, however, you may need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the incident.

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