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What is quid pro quo harassment?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

One term that you will often hear connected to sexual harassment allegations is “quid pro quo.” This can be used to describe a certain situation in which this harassment can take place, potentially creating a hostile work environment.

Essentially, this refers to harassment where something is offered in exchange for something else. That is what quid pro quo means as a legal term. When talking about sexual harassment allegations, it generally relates to two different scenarios.

To get something

First off, it could be an exchange that offers the employee something that they want. For example, the CEO knows that an employee would like a promotion and a raise. They tell that employee that they will get the promotion and the raise in exchange for sexual favors outside of work. This is a type of manipulation by the CEO – or potentially by someone else in a position of power.

To avoid negative ramifications

But it does not always have to be a positive exchange. The employee could be told that they can avoid negative ramifications by doing as they’re asked. For instance, it may be implied that that employee has to provide sexual favors or their position will be terminated. If they want to avoid losing their job, they may feel pressured or coerced into going along with what is asked.

Of course, both of these things could also be true at the same time. If the person in the position of power asks for a sexual relationship or specific favors, the employee might understand that they will benefit if they go along with it and that they will be fired if they do not.

But no matter how it plays out, this type of harassment is illegal. Employees need to be well aware of the steps they can take if it happens to them.