What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Published on June 11, 2024, by Forbes Law Offices | Sexual Abuse Cases


Most individuals, especially those employed outside the home, are likely familiar with the concept of sexual harassment. After all, many employers take time to write about it in their employee handbook. Others even go as far as offering training about this unlawful workplace behavior. However, while many employees may have heard of sexual harassment, they might not have seen “quid pro quo” placed in front of it, which is Latin for “this for that” or “something for something.”

If you’ve been subjected to unwanted sexually-oriented treatment in the workplace and you’re wondering what quid pro quo sexual harassment is, our description below will help you understand. We’ll also explain the significance of categorization of harassment like this, including how it impacts your rights to hold the liable party accountable for their wrongful actions.

What Qualifies as Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

This type of harassment is most often spoken about in the context of the workplace, although it can occur in other settings, and may include inappropriate sexual contact between a teacher and student or a landlord and tenant. In fact, any sex discrimination behaviors that violate Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may qualify as this. The key here is that there’s some degree of “bribery” that occurs, requiring a prospective or existing employee, student, tenant, etc., to perform some kind of sexual act to get what they want, such as a job or promotion, good grade, or rental home.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Although we already highlighted how a hiring manager or company owner may condition their offer of employment on a worker’s “acceptance” of their sexual advances, this isn’t the only type of sexually charged “bargaining” employees are faced with. Employers, supervisors, and others may take advantage of the power dynamics in place, threatening to do the following if a worker doesn’t comply with their sexual wants and desires:

  • Deny them training or advancement opportunities that may offer a pay increase or additional benefits
  • Cut a worker’s hours if they don’t agree to date them
  • Write them a bad performance review
  • Demote them or change their assigned role or work location

While the focus of quid pro quo lawsuits often centers on a worker’s superiors on the job, this unlawful form of sexual harassment can be doled out by vendors or clients as well. For example, one of the latter, who you’re looking to broker a deal with, may condition their offer on you agreeing to perform certain sexual favors for them.

What To Do if You’ve Fallen Victim to Inappropriate Sexual Advances

Whether you’ve been subjected to unwanted sexual contact, which can be verbal, physical, or some other type, in the workplace or some other scenario, such as the ones described above, it’s important to know that you have rights. This is the case whether the sexual advances you endured were implicit or explicit. It’s also important that you know that you didn’t need to have given in to the pressure to have a pursuable case.

In situations like these, it’s best to compile evidence of what happened, report the incident to your company’s human resources office, and consult with a Charleston sex abuse attorney to learn more about the legal options you have.

Legal Options and Remedies Available in Quid Pro Quo Cases

In speaking with a lawyer, they may advise you that you have various legal options, one of which may be filing a claim with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or your employer in its own capacity.

Filing an employment discrimination claim or civil lawsuit may allow you to recover back pay, have your job reinstated, and make you eligible for compensatory and punitive damages.

Proving cases like these can be challenging if you don’t have a legal background to understand your burden of proof. Our legal team at Forbes Law Offices can assist you in building a strong case that demands compensation for all that you’ve been through in your workplace here in Charleston or elsewhere in West Virginia. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your mistreatment at work.