Sexual harassment can manifest in various ways. Not all these ways are outright, physical, aggressive, or obvious.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment can be subtle and therefore, fly under the radar. But it’s still harassment, and it’s still illegal.

Read on to learn more about what constitutes quid pro quo harassment and what you can do if you’ve been a victim.

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning essentially, “something for something.” In the case of sexual harassment, the term refers to harassment whereby an employee or potential employee gains something of value (e.g., a promotion or raise) in exchange for a sexual favor.

The sexual favor or request does not have to actually take place for this type of behavior to be harassment — hinting or asking is enough.

Examples of Quid Pro Quo Harassment

In general, this type of harassment takes place between a person in a position of authority over a subordinate. It’s similar to bribery but involves sexual favors or requests instead of money or gifts.

Here are a few examples of what quid pro quo might look like in the workplace.

  • A manager suggesting to a subordinate that she will gain favor for an upcoming promotion if she joins the manager at his house after work.
  • An executive hinting to an assistant that he may avoid upcoming layoffs if he submits to the executive’s flirtatious advances.
  • A hiring manager hinting to an interviewee that the job is theirs — if only they first provide a sexual favor.

Again, no actual sexual contact needs to happen for harassment to take place. Hints, suggestions, and outright requests for these types of “trade-offs” are quid pro quo sexual harassment.

It’s important to remember that sexual harassment can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, age, or field of employment.

What Isn’t Considered Quid Pro Quo?

There are other types of harassment that take place that doesn’t fall under this umbrella. Lewd remarks, sexual comments, or sexual requests aren’t quid pro quo if there wasn’t an element of “something for something.”

Consensual relationships between colleagues aren’t considered harassment. This includes situations where the relationship is between a higher-up and their subordinate.

Bribes within the workplace that do not have a sexual nature are also not considered quid pro quo sexual harassment.

What To Do If You Believe You’ve Experienced Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

If you think you may be a victim, seek professional advice or legal counsel as soon as possible. Even if you feel it was an isolated incident, it’s still important to get the behavior documented and learn what options you might have to rectify the situation.

The right attorney can look at the facts of your situation. If legal counsel determines that you’ve experienced this type of harassment, you can take legal action.

You might be entitled to compensatory damages to make up for lost wages and benefits. In some cases, you may also be able to claim damages for the emotional distress that the victimization caused you.

Get a Free Case Evaluation Today

Remember, you have a right to work without fear of sexual harassment, retaliation, or intimidation. Sexual harassment is illegal, and you have avenues available to you to fight back against it.

If you think you’ve experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment, we encourage you to contact us for a free evaluation today.

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