In its most basic form, sexual harassment occurs when an employer proposes a quid pro quo–that is, requests sexual “favors” from an employee or job applicant in exchange for employment-related consideration. This is illegal, period. No employer may ever condition hiring, firing, compensation, or promotion decisions on the basis of a person's willingness to engage in sexual relations. If you are the victim of such quid pro quo harassment, you have the right to take legal action against the offending employer and individuals.
EEOC Sues Restaurant Over Ex-Manager's Sexually Explicit Texts to Teenage Applicants
At the federal level, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the laws against quid pro quo harassment. For example, the EEOC is currently involved in litigation with an upstate New York restaurant franchise operator over allegations that one of company's former general managers propositioned teenage job applicants for sex. According to the EEOC, two women who were subject to this sexual harassment filed complaints.
The first woman said she had an in-person interview with the general manager for an entry-level crew position. At the end of the interview, the manager indicated he planned to offer the woman the job. But shortly thereafter, he sent her a “sexually-explicit” text message, in effect requesting “that she have sex with him in exchange for the job.” Ultimately, the woman did not comply with this request and she did not get the job.
The second woman, who was 17 years old at the time, also applied for a job with the defendant's restaurant. This woman filled out an online application but never received an in-person interview. However, about a week after submitting her application, the woman said she received a text message from the general manager asking, “how badly do you need a job.” The manager followed this up by asking point-blank, “Would you sleep with the manager to get this job?” and telling the woman “[b]ang my brains out [and] the job is yours.”
The second woman filed a formal complaint with the employer as well as the local police department. After the woman's story received some news attention, the employer fired the general manager for engaging in illegal sexual harassment. But the employer also did not offer the second woman a job.
Both women filed administrative complaints with the EEOC. In July 2015, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit on their behalf, alleging the employer engaged in illegal acts of sex discrimination. On July 11 of this year, a federal judge denied both sides' respective motions for summary judgment. While it was “undisputed” the manager “sent explicit texts” to the second woman, there remains a factual dispute over whether the manager actually possessed hiring authority and whether both women knew that at the time of the harassment. The judge said a jury would have to resolve this and other outstanding questions, including whether the first woman actually received sexually harassing text messages.
Get Help from a NYC Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you ever receive a sexually explicit or harassing email from a potential employer, make sure you preserve this evidence. It can prove critical if you need to bring an employment discrimination complaint to the EEOC or in court. And if you need legal advice on how to handle quid pro quo harassment from a qualified New York employment law attorney, contact White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, today.