Common Sexual Harassment Claims

Common Sexual Harassment Claims

For many years, most of the estimated 80% of female workers who experience sexual harassment suffered in silence. The #MeToo movement has largely changed this landscape. Workplace sexual harassment has been illegal for decades. Now, for the first time, many victims are aware of their rights.

Still, these rights are only ink on paper unless a Chicago employment lawyer enforces them. Additionally, it is important for victims to be aware of the different types of sexual harassment. So, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission refuses to stand up for them in court, as is often the case, they know additional remedies might be available.

Quid Pro Quo

Generally, quid pro quo means this for that. But in the sexual harassment context, quid pro quo basically means “anything for anything.”

Some quid pro quos are direct. Supervisors blatantly promise preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors. The preferential treatment need not be a promotion to CEO. Anything will do. By the same token, the sexual favor need not be a weekend together. Once again, anything will do.

Other quid pro quos are much more subtle. There is no promised preferential treatment and no outright request of a sexual favor. Still, in many cases, these exchanges are still illegal. However, such quid pro quos are harder to establish in court.


Quite frequently, sexual harassment claims do not require proof of workplace harassment. The employer’s response is all that matters.

Generally, illegal retaliation is any adverse action triggered by an employee’s exercise of a protected activity. In the sexual harassment context, such protected activities include things like:

  • Reporting workplace harassment,
  • Encouraging another worker to report harassment,
  • Attending an organizational meeting, and
  • Serving as a witness in a sexual harassment investigation.

Most of the sexual harassment cases the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles are retaliation cases.

Once again, the retaliation could be any adverse action. However, there must normally be actual adverse action and not just a threat. Such threats could be actionable under a different employment law theory.

Hostile Environment

Retaliation and quid pro quo are usually one-time affairs. Hostile work environment claims, however, often occur slowly over time.

Workers have valid hostile environment claims if the environment is so toxic that it affects their job performance. So, not every incident of harassment constitutes a hostile environment. 

It is a bit like profanity in a movie. A film can have a few s-bombs and still obtain a PG-13 rating. But eventually, a stricter rating, such as R or NC-17, applies. A PG-13 hostile environment is probably not actionable. However, victims certainly do not have to wait until things reach the NC-17 threshold.

Contact a Tenacious Lawyer

Most job sites in Cook County might involve sexual harassment claims. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. We do not charge upfront legal fees in most employment discrimination cases.