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Understanding quid pro quo sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | Harassment, Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can make the workplace tense and stressful. It can affect the well-being, performance, and dynamics of both the victim and their coworkers.

What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that means “something for something”. In the workplace, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee, typically a supervisor, manager, or other person of authority within the company, directly or indirectly demands sexual favors in exchange for an employment benefit or to refrain from taking adverse actions against an employee.

Some examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment include:

  • Offering a promotion, a raise, or benefits  to an employee in exchange for a sexual favor;
  • Transferring or demoting an employee who refuses to perform a sexual favor.
  • Promising a raise in exchange for dropping a sexual harassment complaint;
  • Threatening to fire a person for ending a consensual relationship;

These behaviors violate state and federal laws that prohibit sexual harassment, including quid pro quo harassment.

How does this harassment affect workers?

Workplaces can become toxic and hostile when employers abuse their power through quid pro quo sexual harassment. Employees who experience quid pro quo sexual harassment can suffer considerable emotional and physical harm due to the fear and intimidation that can result from the harassment.  Other workers who witness or suspect a quid pro quo situation may feel angry and resentful if they believe that the relationship is consensual and that they were denied certain opportunities as a result.

Stopping quid pro quo harassment

Employees who experience quid pro quo sexual harassment should consider notifying a more senior supervisor or Human Resources about the harassment. If that’s not possible, because the harasser is the head of the company and there is no HR department, or if the employee does not feel comfortable reporting the harassment, the employee should seek legal counsel to understand their rights and options and determine the best way to protect themselves and their jobs. If the harassment persists, employees can, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or file a lawsuit against the employer and the harasser and seek damages

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The Attorneys of Katz Melinger PLLC