What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?


Sexual harassment at work can take many forms. Under Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964, there are two recognized types of sexual harassment: Quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

The federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) defines workplace sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with the performance of a person’s job, or that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Quid pro quo is a Latin term that means “something for something,” also referred to as “this for that.” In terms of workplace sexual harassment, quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor requires sex, sexual favors or sexual contact from an employee or a candidate as a condition of employment.

On the other hand, sexual harassment based on a hostile work environment is unwelcome conduct based on sex, where the behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive or offensive working environment.

Examples of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

  • A male manager offers a female subordinate a promotion, but only in exchange for certain sexual favors. The quid pro quo is a promotion in exchange for sex.
  • During an employment interview, a male manager interviews a female job applicant and places his hand on her thigh. When the applicant objects, he says “I thought you want this job?” implying that she must agree to sexual advances in order to get the job. The quid pro quo is a job offer in exchange for sex.
  • A female worker request reassignment from second shift to first shift, but her supervisor says she will get it only if she sleeps with him. The quid pro quo is a favorable shift change in exchange for sex.

As you can see, it is a person of authority, usually a supervisor, making demands of a sexual nature on a subordinate in exchange for getting or keeping a job or a workplace benefit such as a promotion, raise or shift change. A quid pro quo claim can be made with only one instance of harassment, but a hostile work environment claim typically requires a pattern of harassment.

In addition to the protection from sexual harassment at work provided by Title VII, workers in New Jersey are also protected by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).

We Can Help If You Have Been a Victim of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If you or a family member has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment of any kind or has been injured in an accident or by any other type of personal injury, or needs help with any employment discrimination or family law issue, please contact the Law Offices of Paul S. Foreman, P.C. immediately. We have the right experience to get the optimal results for your case. Please call us for a free consultation. Attorney Paul S. Foreman, personal injury attorney in Essex, will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at 973-315-3232 or contact us via the website.