Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment typically involves someone in a supervisor-type role. He or she asks or hints at sexual favors in exchange for any type of employment benefit. This could also mean in return for some type of sexual favor the employee would receive more pay, a higher-ranking job, or more seniority within the company.

This is the most common types people see in the media. While this type of harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be between a subordinate and a person of power, it usually is. It is any person with the power to entice a victim into fulfilling sexual demands. These are usually raises, benefits, special deals, recommendations, and certain shifts.  Normally, the harasser threatens negative consequences if not fulfilled. These negative aspects can be a demotion, firing, bad shifts or bad performance reviews.

Other Forms of Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Most people believe that quid pro quo harassment only relates to sexual harassment. However, it can extend to other forms of harassment. Any trade involving gender identity, national origin, race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, veteran status, genetic information or a disability is intolerable. Just one threat is illegal and the victim should report it immediately. If nothing happens after reporting the threat, the employer can also be liable.

Elements of a Quid Pro Quo Harassment Claim

Often a company will remedy the incident internally without legal involvement. But, it is should be known that the company will protect itself instead of the victim. It is the victims’ right to contact an attorney and hold the employer liable.

When submitting a harassment claim, there are typically three main parties involved: the plaintiff (i.e. the employee or job applicant who felt that sexual favors were expected of him or her), the defendant (the company involved in the claim), and the individual alleged to have harassed the plaintiff

The main components of your claims include:

  • The harasser implied benefits after performing a sexual request.
  • The harasser implied negative consequences if not performing the sexual request.
  • At the time of the incident, the harasser worked for the company in question.
  • The reported conduct and the actions of the harasser caused harm to the defendant.

Then, the court searches for evidence that the reported harassment affected the plaintiff’s career. This can be a denial of a project or promotion. Victims can still file claims even if they submitted to the requests of the harasser.


During the case, plaintiffs involved may recover compensatory damages such as lost benefits and wages, lost employment opportunities, and factors such as emotional upset and distress. In some cases, they can reclaim their job.

In especially bad quid pro quo harassment cases, punitive damages may also be given as a means to discourage the defendant from allowing, or engaging in, any sexual harassment in future. The victim has 180 days to file a complaint with the EEOC.

Free Consultation

If you have experienced sexual harassment in any form in the workplace, you should contact a qualified employment attorney as soon as possible. If the harassment has not stopped after making a formal complaint with your employer, consulting a harassment lawyer is your best option. Your attorney will be able to provide further guidance, help you file a claim with the EEOC, and help you build a case that will put an end to what you have experienced.

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