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What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a frustrating and sometimes confusing experience. There can be a fine line between flirting and violating someone’s basic rights. Even those who feel very uncomfortable because of the misconduct of co-workers may feel confused about their rights and options when enduring harassment in the workplace.

Sexual harassment laws allow workers to take legal action when they experience a hostile work environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment. What kind of behavior constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Offering work benefits for personal favors

Quid pro quo harassment typically involves someone in a position of authority over a worker using their power to solicit sexual favors from someone else. A manager demanding sexual gratification before recommending someone for a promotion is an example of quid pro quo harassment.

Retaliation for refusing advances might also constitute quid pro quo harassment. A manager threatening to write someone up for their attitude when they reject sexual advances or refuse to flirt with someone could be quid pro quo harassment. If the person harassing a worker offers job benefits or threatens job punishments when attempting to solicit favors from someone else, the person enduring those advances may be a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

It can be difficult to document and prove quid pro quo harassment, but taking action against it can help someone protect their career and hold another party accountable for inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Fighting back against sexual harassment benefits both the person making the report and may lead to the company being more proactive about protecting workers from abuse in the future.