Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: Examples, Meaning, and More

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a pervasive and serious form of workplace abuse. Quid pro quo harassment involves a workplace superior pressuring an employee for sexual favors in exchange for employment rewards or in lieu of threatened punishment. This type of harassment is illegal and a violation of the victim’s civil rights. If you are the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment in your workplace, contact Warner Law Offices today to schedule your free consultation. We are here to defend your rights and help you seek compensation. 

If you are visiting this page, it is likely because you find yourself asking, “What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?” “Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase that can be loosely translated as “this for that, “tit for tat,” or “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

In the context of workplace sexual harassment, a quid-pro-quo situation arises when a higher-up uses their authority to make decisions about workplace discipline, pay rates, promotions, and the like to pressure an employee into accepting the higher-up’s sexual advances or provocations. This kind of behavior is unconscionable and illegal. 

Victims of quid pro quo harassment in the workplace have many legal options available to them. For example, filing a workplace harassment claim against employers who abuse their power over employees is likely an option. However, due to the sensitivity and legal complexities of workplace sexual harassment claims, consulting with an experienced attorney can be extremely helpful.

Contact Warner Law Offices, PLLC, today to learn more about your legal options. We offer free, confidential consultations

Examples of Workplace Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Again, quid pro quo sexual advances are a form of sexual harassment whereby one party, normally someone in a position of authority, presses another to perform sexual favors in exchange for something else. For example, it may arise when a business owner, manager, or supervisor directly or indirectly manipulates an employee with the possibility of advancement if they engage in sexual activity or termination if they do not.

No matter how it arises, quid pro quo harassment should never be tolerated. Regardless of whether the employee refused or went along with the sexual advance, and regardless of whether the threatened consequences of a refusal were ever carried out, sexual harassment in the workplace is never acceptable behavior. 

For example, suppose an employee refused a salary raise offered in exchange for sex. Alternatively, suppose the employee gave into a sexual advance in exchange for not being fired. In both cases, the employee is the victim of workplace sexual harassment and should consult with an attorney. 

If you have experienced anything like this, reach out to our trustworthy and compassionate legal team at Warner Law Offices, PLLC. We will explain your legal rights and options in a free, confidential consultation.

Is Quid Pro Quo Always a Form of Sexual Harassment?

While inappropriate workplace quid pro quo is often sexual in nature, a quid pro quo incident can also be non-sexual. For example, a manager could promise a promotion or raise in exchange for the employee completing non-sexual favors unrelated to work. 

However, the most serious and notorious forms of quid pro quo in workplaces tend to involve sexual harassment. Some cases of quid pro quo harassment can even rise to the level of sexual assault. For example, this would occur if a workplace higher-up resorts to force or threats of violence if their quid pro quo offer does not sway their victim. Force and coercion will aggravate the criminal nature of the sexual harassment. 

Quid Pro Quo vs. Hostile Work Environments

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is distinct from the more general concept of a “hostile work environment,” which is characterized by pervasive and ongoing patterns of discriminatory, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate behavior in the workplace. The behavior that creates a hostile work environment may interfere with the victim’s ability to perform their work comfortably. However, it does not always involve quid pro quo sexual harassment. 

Further, where a hostile work environment normally requires an extended pattern of behavior, a single incident of quid pro quo sexual advances is sufficient to violate an employee’s rights and impact their well-being. In all cases, our workplace harassment attorneys in West Virginia are here to make sure you know your full legal rights and options. 

Filing a Quid Pro Quo Harassment Lawsuit

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is prohibited in all fifty states by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law. This landmark statute prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex or gender and considers sexual harassment to be a form of sex discrimination. In other words, victims of quid pro quo harassment can file civil complaints against employers when they are asked for sexual favors in exchange for employment-related rewards and benefits. 

Workplace quid pro quo sexual harassment is also prohibited at the state level. Warner Law Offices handles cases in West Virginia and Colorado. We can help you file a claim with the West Virginia Equal Employment Opportunity Office and the Colorado Civil Rights Division

How to Prove Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Proving workplace sexual harassment can be difficult, largely because culprits are likely to push back hard against accusations and may go to great lengths to hide evidence. To define quid pro quo harassment, it is helpful to draw on language from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Office. The EEOC explains as follows: 

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” 

Our attorneys are ready to listen to your story and conduct a thorough, independent investigation of your case. Relevant evidence may include things like: 

  • Emails, text messages, and social media posts
  • Coworker testimony that they were also harassed 
  • Witness testimony 
  • Workplace surveillance footage 
  • Physical evidence, such as photos used to blackmail you and clothes damaged in a violent sexual advance
  • Complaint records previously filed against the perpetrator 
  • Medical records or reports prepared by your doctor or psychiatrist
  • Police records

At Warner Law Offices, we understand how traumatic it can be to experience any kind of sexual harassment, as well as how difficult it can be to have the experience investigated as part of a lawsuit. Our compassionate team of attorneys will handle your case with the utmost care and sensitivity it deserves. We are here to help.

Contact Us for Legal Help with Your Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Claim

If you are the victim of quid pro quo harassment at your workplace, remember that it is possible to hold the responsible parties legally accountable, as well as to secure monetary compensation. Though there are many legal complexities involved in workplace sexual harassment lawsuits, we have what it takes to handle your case from start to finish. 

At Warner Law Office, PLLC, we are committed to serving our community by providing excellent legal representation to all of our clients, and we are ready to do the same for you. We are a full-service personal injury law firm with many years of experience in multiple practice areas. Founded by Bobby Warner, a leading West Virginia trial lawyer, our firm boasts a solid track record of success and an excellent reputation among our clients

Our sexual harassment and discrimination attorneys are ready to listen to your story and make sure you know your full legal rights and options. Contact Warner Law Offices, PLLC, today by calling (304) 345-6789 or filling out our online contact form. We offer free, confidential consultations.

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Attorney Bobby Warner
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Bobby Warner

Bobby has received many accolades throughout the years from both his peers in the legal community, as well as the media. The National Trial Lawyers association named Bobby a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and he has been selected as a Member of the Nation’s Top One Percent. Additionally, he has been named a Best Attorneys of America by Rue Ratings, which also named Warner Law Offices to its Best Law Firms of America.

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