Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton

What is quid pro quo harassment?

As an employee, you perform job duties in exchange for your paycheck and other company benefits. Trading labor for pay is a standard example of an employment situation. Unfortunately, some employers require their employees to perform sexual favors for an employment decision.

This type of situation is known as quid pro quo harassment and is downright illegal. Here is what you need to know about quid pro quo harassment.

The definition

Quid pro quo literally means "something for something" in Latin. According to Cornell Law School, this kind of sexual harassment occurs when a superior tells a worker that he or she will make an employment decision based on whether the employee will fulfill a sexual demand. This is different than hostile work environment harassment, which is conduct that is severe or pervasive but does not result in an employment action. 


To help you understand more about quid pro quo, here are some examples of what an employer may say to you:

  • "I will give you a pay raise, but only if you go on a date with me and come home with me afterward."
  • "If you do not satisfy my sexual needs, I will fire you."
  • "You will get a promotion if you perform a sexual act for me."

However, the statements do not need to be so clear in order to constitute quid pro quo. Even if your employer hints or suggests anything like this, you may have a quid pro quo case. Managers may also partake in quid pro quo with lower employees–it does not have to be the boss or CEO.  

If you experience anything like this, it can be distressing. The consequences of quid pro quo can be harmful and devastating to your employment opportunities and personal life. If you think you are a victim of quid pro quo harassment, talk to a lawyer and learn how to file a complaint.

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