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3 common examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment

On Behalf of | May 23, 2022 | Sexual Harassment |

Some sexual harassment involves a hostile workplace. There is a culture at the company that makes someone feel uncomfortable and unsafe around co-workers or clients. Other times, the issue experience involves quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that means something for something. It implies an exchange, which may be a violation of a worker’s rights and human dignity. Identifying common forms of quid pro quo harassment by familiarizing yourself with the three common examples provided below can help you fight back.

They offer rewards for favors or dates

Your supervisor calls you into their office to tell you that they need someone to come with them to an industry event as their date. They offer not just a paid trip on the company dime but also to cover the cost of an outfit and a professional haircut.

While that offer may seem kind on the surface, you can’t help but notice that there is an implied asterisk to the offer that they will treat you as an actual date and not a co-worker at the event or afterward. A supervisor, manager or customer offering some kind of career or financial reward for your time or a sexual favor is a textbook example of quid pro quo harassment.

They threaten to punish you for declining their advances

Your supervisor asks you out for dinner at the end of a long shift, and you demur politely. Perhaps you say that you want to adhere to company policy by not dating anyone from work.

Despite your attempt at civility, they become quite hostile afterward. They may even threaten to cut your hours or stop giving you good sales leads because you just rejected them. Those threats can also be a form of quid pro quo harassment. 

They attach unwritten requirements to promotions and raises

Some companies will keep workers from advancing unless they have the support of existing managers and executives. The people holding those positions might try to use them for personal benefit.

While they have no interest in an actual relationship with you, they have an expectation that you will gratify them in some way if you want a raise, promotion or a recommendation. All too often, people who want to succeed in their careers may feel like they have few options when facing quid pro quo harassment.

Even if you have acquiesced and previously benefited from their misconduct, you have the right to say no and to take action against the people abusing their power or a company that ignores such abuses. Identifying different forms of sexual harassment can help you document what you experienced at work and hold a company accountable.