CA restaurant owner accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can broadly be broken down into two main categories. We frequently write about cases of sexual harassment that fall under the category of “hostile work environment.” In short, victims experience a hostile work environment because another employee or supervisor is engaging in inappropriate comments, jokes, unwelcome touching and similar actions.
The other type of sexual harassment is known as “quid pro quo,” which is a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” Any employer or supervisor who says something to the effect of “have sex with me if you want to keep your job” is engaging in quid pro quo. The benefit being put in jeopardy could be the job itself, job status, promotion, pay raise or any other work-related benefit.
A sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed late last month appears to be a clear-cut example of quid pro quo. The defendant in the lawsuit is a restaurant owner in Chula Vista, California. The plaintiffs include several former waitresses who were each propositioned for sex and/or sexual favors and were allegedly fired when they refused.
One of the plaintiffs said that she went out with her boss shortly after getting hired and she reluctantly had sex with him. She explained that “I felt pressured and didn’t want to lose my job. It was well known among the waitresses that you had to sleep with [the owner].”
After that first encounter, however, she did reject his other offers and sexual advances; including an alleged offer to pay her rent in exchange for sex. As a result, her hours were reduced over the next few months and she was eventually fired in a text message from her boss.
All plaintiffs in the lawsuit tell similar stories about being propositioned for sex and suffering work-related consequences when they refused. One of the former waitresses said that “going to work was like being in prison.”
Although sexual harassment is unfortunately common, it is rarely this blatant. Hopefully, this will be an open-and-shut case for the plaintiffs that results in appropriate compensation.
Source: ABC 10 News, “Women describe alleged harassment, sex-for-shifts job requirement at Chula Vista restaurant,” Michael Chen, Oct. 31, 2013