Having a laid-back, friendly atmosphere at work can be a positive thing because it prompts people to be excited about coming to their job every day. A casual workspace can feel more like a family than a group of relative strangers.
Unfortunately, some people can take a casual workplace too far. They might start flirting with their co-workers or asking them out on dates. Although most of the time such actions are well-intentioned, other times they turn into something darker.
What starts out as a little bit of harmless flirtation can eventually escalate into full-blown sexual harassment. Especially if the one initiating the flirting is someone in a position of workplace authority, the potential exists for the situation to turn into textbook quid pro quo sexual harassment.
No one should leverage their workplace authority for personal favors
Some companies have internal policies that forbid their workers from engaging in intimate relationships. Even if your employer doesn’t have a rule against co-workers dating, you still have the right to decline advances.
If you tell someone you don’t want to date or spend time with them outside of the workplace, they should accept your rejection so that you can maintain a professional relationship. Still, some people will try to use their position to force you into compliance.
They might offer you benefits, like a pay increase, better shifts or even a promotion if you agree to date them or provide them with sexual favors. On the other hand, they might threaten you with reprisal if you decline them when they make a request. Using their job authority to coerce you into cooperation is a classic example of quid pro quo harassment.
Your career opportunities should reflect your performance, not your compliance
One person’s frustrated advances should not dictate your career prospects and future. The company that employs you should make decisions about your compensation and employment based on your performance, not on the whims of someone interested in you romantically or sexually.
Reporting someone for quid pro quo harassment should result in an internal investigation and disciplinary action. If the company punishes you instead of the offender or if they take no action at all, you may have to pursue a sexual harassment claim against the business to seek justice.