Civil Rights Act specifically defines quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment as two separate causes of action. The statute explains that quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when “(i) [s]ubmission to the conduct or communication is made a term or condition either explicitly or implicitly to obtain employment” or “(ii) [s]ubmission to or rejection of the conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting the individual’s employment.”
When making a claim of quid pro quo sexual harassment under the Civil Rights Act, the plaintiff must show “(i) that she was subject to any of the types of sexual conduct or communication described in the statute, and (ii) that her employer or the employer’s agent used her submission to or rejection of the proscribed conduct as a factor in a decision affecting her employment.” The plaintiff in Champion v. Nationwide Sec., Inc. easily met the first requirement as she could show that she was a victim of rape by her employer’s agent. The court also decided that Ms. Champion’s case satisfied the second requirement in a rather unique way. The court noted that Ms. Champion’s refusal of her supervisor’s advances led to his decision to use violence. This violence, then, led to Ms. Champion’s constructive discharge.
The court said that the supervisor’s decision to rape Ms. Champion constituted the requisite decision affecting employment for a finding of quid pro quo sexual harassment. However, applying the same two requirements to the claim of Ms. Hartleip in Hartleip v. McNeilab, the court did not see a case of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Ms. Hartleip received unwanted romantic letters and attention of a sexual nature from a quasi-superior. Ms. Hartleip could not, however, establish a claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment because this quasi-superior was not in a position to affect her employment status and did not do so.
Whether under the broad interpretation of Title VII or the narrowly tailored requirements of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, the quid pro quo sexual harassment claim is essentially the same. A plaintiff must demonstrate that her reaction to the complained of harassment concretely affected her employment. It is clear that both statutes intend to combat this blatant form of sexual harassment, each merely differing in its methods to meet this end.
Sexual Harassment Creating a Hostile Work Environment
Behavior that culminates in quid pro quo sexual harassment is rather obvious under both the federal and statutes. Sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment is not as easily defined under Title VII. This type of sexual harassment can be more subtle and will not have the tangible results seen in quid pro quo sexual harassment cases. However, the courts again provide direction for detecting this type of sexual harassment.
The federal courts closely follow the guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) in order to define hostile work environment sexual harassment. In the early case of Henson v. City of Dundee41 the court established the importance of the E.E.O.C. guidelines saying that in pertinent part they provide that Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment.
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