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Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Bullying
Employment Law in California

Proving Implicit Conditions For Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: Victim Must Only Show that Condition Was Reasonably Inferred

Handshake In order to establish a case of quid pro quo sexual harassment, an employee must show that the harasser explicitly or implicitly conditioned a job, a job benefit, or the absence of a job detriment, upon the employee’s acceptance of sexual conduct.” Heyne v. Caruso, 69 F.3d 1475, 1478 (9th Cir.1995).

In quid pro quo sexual harassment cases, the supervisor often pressures the victim for sex, implicitly conditioning job benefits or the absence of a job detriment on her acceptance of his demand, but without expressly stating that he will fire her if she does not comply or that he will give her a raise if she does comply.

In quid pro quo sexual harassment cases, a victim need not prove the harasser’s subjective intent to fire or demote her if she did not comply with his sexual requests. Rather, it is sufficient to show that a reasonable person in the victim’s position would have believed that her job depended on fulfilling the harasser’s demands based on the circumstances. See Holly D. v. California Institute of Technology (9th Cir. 2003) 339 F.3d 1158, 1173-1174. To prove that a harasser implicitly conditioned a job benefit or avoidance of a job detriment on acceptance of a demand for sex, the victim must show that a link to employment benefits or avoidance of an employment detriment could reasonably be inferred under the circumstances.

A “verbal nexus” between work-related discussions and sexual requests, although not necessary to a finding of an actionable quid pro quo offer, often helps to establish the existence of an implicit condition.

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