The #MeToo movement has been extremely effective at raising awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition, many businesses and corporations require sexual harassment training for employers who have more than 50 employees. However, while progress has been made, sexual harassment continues to be a widespread problem, from the corporate boardroom to busy kitchens in four-star restaurants.
One form of sexual harassment that is particularly insidious is sexual bribery, which occurs when an employer, supervisor, or co-worker offers some type of incentive, including a promotion or a raise, in exchange for sex or some type of sexual behavior. This can be extremely traumatizing, particularly if the worker feels as though they have nowhere to turn for help.
Any kind of unwanted sexual advance in the workplace can leave a person feeling shocked, angry, confused, and upset. Sexual bribery is extremely traumatic because it sends the message that the promise of a promotion, a salary increase, or any other incentive depends on whether or not the worker allows the sexual activity to happen. These cases are also referred to as quid pro quo sexual harassment. In addition to being a gross abuse of power, sexual bribery is a violation of the worker’s civil rights, and the person who is engaging in this behavior could face serious consequences.
What Are Examples of Sexual Bribery?
If an employer, supervisor, or anyone in a position of power offers an incentive in exchange for sexual favors, including a promotion, a salary increase, a positive performance review, or any kind of special treatment at work, you may have grounds to pursue a sexual harassment claim. Sexual bribery can be explicit or implicit in nature. It is important to understand the difference between the two and that they are both considered sexual harassment.
The following is an example of implicit sexual bribery:
- A supervisor at an advertising agency touches a web designer’s thigh while asking her if she wants to be considered for a long-term assignment. This behavior is considered implicit because the supervisor is not explicitly asking the web designer to perform a sexual act in order to be given the special assignment. However, touching her thigh while asking if she would be interested in the assignment implies that the inappropriate physical contact is why he is offering her the job.
Explicit sexual bribery is often easier to identify and prove because it is much more obvious. The following is an example of explicit sexual bribery:
- After working for an accounting firm for over a year, an accountant asks her supervisor for a raise. Her supervisor responds by saying that he will give her a raise if she gives him a kiss. This is explicit sexual bribery because the supervisor has made it very clear that in order to be considered for a pay raise, the accountant has to kiss her boss.
It is also important for you to understand that it does not have to be a supervisor or someone who is in a higher position than you in order to be guilty of sexual bribery. A co-worker can also engage in this type of sexual harassment if they are in a position to provide complimentary feedback for your performance review. If your co-worker refuses to provide this information unless you agree to their sexual advances, this is an example of sexual bribery.
What Legal Recourse Do I Have if I Have Experienced Sexual Bribery?
If you have been subjected to sexual bribery in the workplace, you may be able to file a sexual harassment claim against the person who has demanded sexual favors in exchange for an employment-related benefit. In order to pursue a sexual harassment claim of the sexual bribery variety, you must be able to prove the following elements:
- You must be an employee of the company, or you applied for a job with the company.
- The alleged harasser made unwanted sexual advances towards you or engaged in unwanted physical or verbal behavior towards you.
- The alleged harasser stated or insinuated that your employment or other job benefits were conditioned on your acceptance of their sexual advances, or other employment decisions that would affect your employment would be based on your acceptance or rejection of the alleged harasser’s conduct.
- The alleged harasser was a supervisor or an agent for the company that you worked for when the sexual bribery occurred.
- You were harmed by the sexual bribery.
- The alleged harasser’s conduct was a major factor in causing you harm.
Ultimately, it is important that you understand that the courts will need proof that the sexual bribery resulted in some type of employment action, including being passed over for a promotion or being terminated from your job. In addition, even if you submitted to your employer’s inappropriate requests, you may still reach a successful claims outcome if you are able to prove the factors discussed above.
It is illegal and a gross abuse of power for employers to engage in this type of behavior. Do not allow the harasser to shame you or try to convince you that you do not have a valid case.
What Steps Do I Take if I Want to Pursue a Sexual Harassment Claim?
If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual bribery in the workplace, the first step is to report the incident to your immediate supervisor or a Human Resources (HR) professional. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination in the workplace in any form is prohibited, and employers must investigate all complaints and take the appropriate action.
You may also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee or engage in behavior that is considered sexual harassment.
What Damages May I Be Entitled to in a Sexual Bribery Case?
If you have experienced on-the-job sexual harassment, including sexual bribery, you may be entitled to financial compensation. A dedicated lawyer will work closely with you to protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the evidence needed to prove your case. A successful claims outcome will ensure that you recover compensatory damages for lost wages, lost benefits, lost employment opportunities, and emotional distress associated with the trauma that the sexual bribery caused.
In some cases, if the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious, punitive damages may also be available.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Workers Who Have Experienced Sexual Bribery
If you have experienced sexual bribery in the workplace, do not hesitate to contact one of our Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today. We will assist you with every step of the claims process. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.