How can a worker prove quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Workers who are trying to fight back against sexual harassment typically need documentation proving what they have experienced. Otherwise, it will simply be their word against someone else’s, which is unlikely to convince regulatory agencies or the courts that harassment has occurred. Someone who is enduring sexual harassment, therefore, has to collect evidence to prove their allegations against a company or a specific worker.

Those who are enduring a hostile work environment may have plenty of evidence, as there might be inappropriate emails sent out to the entire team and dozens of people who witness every uncomfortable and unsavory interaction. On the other hand, those who are enduring quid pro quo harassment conducted by a supervisor or business owner may be in a more difficult position as such misconduct almost always occurs in private.

How might a worker experiencing quid pro quo harassment where someone tries to solicit sexual favors by offering workplace rewards or threatening punishment gather proof of what they have endured?

Audio recordings could be an option

New York is a one-party consent state for the purpose of making an audio recording. It is illegal to record conversations without anyone’s awareness, but it is legal to record a conversation even if only one person involved in the conversation has consented to the recording. A worker might use their mobile phone or a specialized device to capture audio of a supervisor making inappropriate suggestions or requests for sexual gratification in the workplace. That evidence could help prove their case.

Personal records can also help to illustrate toxic behavior

If people cannot make recordings because of the environment in which they work, then the best option might be for them to create a journal of what they experience. Detailed records including exactly what happened, as well as when and where each incident occurred, could help someone show that they have endured numerous inappropriate attempts to solicit dates or sexual favors from someone in a position of career authority.

Proper evidence could prove to be invaluable when someone courageously files concerns internally, with regulatory agencies and/or with the courts. Seeking legal guidance and putting together consequential documentation can be crucial for those hoping to combat workplace sexual harassment.

super lawyers
New York County Lawyers Association
New York City Bar
NELA Advocates for Employee Rights National Employment Lawyers Association
lead counsel lc verified