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What is “quid pro quo” sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Sexual Harassment |

“Quid pro quo” sexual harassment involves situations wherein one’s employment, opportunities or benefits are explicitly or implicitly conditioned upon the acceptance of unwanted sexual advances or demands by an employer, manager, supervisor or someone else.

In simple terms, quid pro quo harassment is any scenario where someone in a position of power at your place of employment offers you favorable treatment or threatens you with adverse consequences in exchange for sexual favors.

What are some examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Sometimes this kind of workplace sexual harassment is obvious. Other times, the harassers use subtle, coercive tactics to try to manipulate their victims into compliance while maintaining plausible deniability about their actions. The following are some common examples of the ways in which quid pro quo harassment manifests in any number of situations:

  • A client implies that they will award your employer a lucrative contract if you agree to a date – and further implies that they’ll give the contract to another if you don’t agree.
  • A customer at a restaurant winks at you and lets you know that your tip depends on your willingness to put up with their obscene comments – and your manager tells you to humor them if you want to keep getting shifts.
  • A team leader consistently assigns the employees willing to flirt with them the easiest tasks or best schedules – and gives you the worst assignments because you do not.
  • Your boss openly tells you that your job promotion or pay raise is dependent on your willingness to agree to a sexual relationship.
  • A manager asks you out on a date and demotes you when you refuse, or they touch you inappropriately while discussing the extra benefits you could receive by “being nice.”
  • Your boss tells you that you can be included in a project that could lead to promotion if you’re willing to “dress sexy” to charm or entice the client.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is both morally reprehensible and illegal. If you’ve been victimized, you have the right to pursue legal action against both your harassers and your employer, if they failed to prevent or properly address such behavior.