What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Your ability to get and keep a job and to advance in the company where you work should be based on your ability and hard work alone, not on your willingness to provide sexual favors. Unfortunately, such demands aren’t uncommon. They’re also a form of illegal sexual harassment called “quid pro quo,” and the team of lawyers at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP is dedicated to stopping it.

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What Does Quid Pro Quo Mean?

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning “something for something.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances.

When Does Quid Pro Quo Happen?

In the workplace, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when employment decisions like hiring, promotions, raises, work assignments, recommendations, and performance evaluations are based on your willingness to submit to the sexual demands made by someone who holds a position of power, like a manager, supervisor, or other person holding a superior position to yours in the company.

Example of Quid Pro Quo

A supervisor promises a subordinate employee a raise if she will go out on a date with him or tells the employee she will be fired if she doesn’t sleep with him.

Only individuals with supervisory authority over a worker can engage in quid pro quo harassment since it requires the harasser to have the authority to grant or withhold job benefits.

A quid pro quo attorney in San Diego like ours at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP can help you stop this behavior and hold responsible parties accountable. Contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 for more information.

Did I Experience Quid Pro Quo

Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred if your boss or another higher-up in your company has indicated that your job in some way depends on your submitting sexual advances, regardless of whether or not you actually yielded to those demands.

Only one instance of quid pro quo sexual harassment is required for you to bring a lawsuit against the company. Furthermore, it is illegal for an employer to fire you for suing your company for sexual harassment, even if you do not win the lawsuit. This is called retaliation, and your San Diego quid pro quo attorney may be able to help you litigate this issue as well.

Other real-life examples of this type of sexual harassment include:

Other Types of

Sexual Harassment

Many people associate workplace sexual harassment at work with quid pro quo harassment only, as they believe that a harasser must be their boss or another authority figure. In reality, you may experience another type of sexual harassment: hostile work environment harassment.

Sexually offensive conduct or what is commonly termed “locker room humor” should not have any place in the workplace. There is a difference between acceptable kidding around and unacceptable sexual innuendo and comments. When conduct at your workplace crosses the line, it can constitute hostile work environment harassment. This form of harassment can occur either through pervasive conduct or an isolated instance of highly offensive behavior.

If you believe that you are in a hostile work environment because of co-workers constantly making statements of a sexual nature, report it to your employer immediately. Your employer has the authority to stop the harassment, and if they don’t, you can take legal action.

All Genders Can Experience

Sexual Harassment

Whether you identify as male, female, non-binary, or any other appropriate term, you can experience sexual harassment in the workplace. While one might naturally think of a male boss harassing a female employee, sexual harassment can take many forms. A man can experience sexual harassment from his female boss, or a male can harass another male due to a lack of gender conformity. A male boss requesting sexual favors from a female employee constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment, and it is no different if a female boss does the same to a male employee. There are no gender-based excuses for sexual harassment. Furthermore, just because a person does not intend to act upon their comments does not mean they do not make other people uncomfortable. If you have experienced a situation in which you felt uncomfortable due to the sexual comments, advances, or other affronts of any member of your workplace, whatever their gender, you might have the right to pursue legal action. The law requires workplaces free of harassment regardless of gender or sexuality, and you may have a sexual harassment claim if unwelcome sexual advances create a hostile work environment for you

Sexual Harassment Can be

Indirect and Even Online

Most people in the modern world have social media accounts, and when it comes to the workplace, it is sometimes the norm that you share your profiles with your coworkers and associates. This provides these individuals with a window into your private life that you should consider before granting access.

We are free to share our personal lives with whomever we like, and when it comes to coworkers, the decision is purely personal. However, if a coworker, associate, or boss uses access to your social media accounts to make you feel uncomfortable or objectified in the workplace, you could be experiencing sexual harassment.

While friendly and positive comments are normal, comments on your photos or social media posts that have an undertone of sexuality or are sexually suggestive can be offensive. Sometimes, coworkers don’t understand this, so tell them that they crossed the line.

If the conduct continues, you might seek legal relief, especially if it harms your position or ability to advance on the job. If you are not comfortable at work because you feel sexually harassed, talk with a San Diego employment attorney to discuss your case.

Retaliation for Sexual Harassment


Many employees speak up and lodge complaints regarding quid pro quo sexual harassment only to find they lose their jobs or suffer another adverse work effect, such as a hostile work environment. This type of retaliation for making a complaint is another violation of anti-discrimination and harassment laws, and anyone who experiences retaliation should discuss the matter with a sexual harassment attorney.

Retaliation can take many forms. Your boss could threaten you when you refused their sexual advances, or your supervisors may look the other way if co-workers tease you or make you feel uncomfortable because you reported the sexual harassment. Any type of adverse employment action resulting from your reporting the matter is serious and against the law

Some forms of retaliation can include:

If you complained of sexual harassment and experienced anything similar to the above, discuss it with your attorney as soon as possible.

Your Employment Law Attorney Advocates

For Your Best Interests

Going through sexual harassment in the workplace can be embarrassing, and you might feel hesitant about standing up for your rights and going through the necessary steps to collect the compensation you deserve. You might worry that some of the same people who participated in the harassment might be involved in the process and reporting the problem may do more harm than good.

When you hire an employment law attorney, they stand up for your rights and handle all communications with the opposing party, their attorneys, and any other parties that might be involved. This removes the stress and concern from your day-to-day life so that you can focus on moving past your negative experience while your attorney works to ensure that you receive the fullest possible relief for your situation.

When you are in a situation that makes it impossible to return to work or negatively impacts your job, you have important legal rights. Employment laws exist to protect you, but you might not know exactly what you deserve because the laws can be complicated.

In some situations, you might seek lost income, compensation for emotional distress, and more. Your experienced employment law attorney will have the knowledge to accurately identify what relief is available to you and will know how to begin the process.

Reach out to a sexual harassment attorney to discuss your case. Speaking to a lawyer will help you understand whether you experienced unlawful harassment and your best course of action. Never wait to reach out for legal assistance. Our firm has compassionate attorneys who understand how devastating sexual harassment can be, and we commit ourselves to standing up for the rights of employees like you.

How to Win This Type of

Sexual Harassment Claim

Before initiating a sexual harassment lawsuit, you will need to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission to obtain a “right to sue” letter.

To win a quid pro quo sexual harassment case, you will need to present good evidence that the harasser made unwanted sexual advances as a condition of your receiving some specific benefits connected with your job or for avoiding some negative action like termination or demotion. The standard of proof in California is a preponderance of the evidence, which means the evidence shows it is more likely than not that the behavior occurred.

The legal elements you need to provide include:

Possible Legal Remedies for

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

The following can result from a successful claim against an employer:

Haeggquist & Eck, LLP

Can Advocate for You

If your job has become unbearable because of constant put-downs, insults, and inappropriate comments based on your gender, gender identity, sexual preference, or any other sex-related characteristic, your first step is to demand that the harasser stop the behavior. If this doesn’t work, check your employee handbook for your company’s complaint procedure. If there is none, report it to your human resources department. Most employers take allegations of sexual harassment seriously and will usually investigate sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment claims and take appropriate action.

If reporting sexual harassment doesn’t produce results or if you are subjected to additional harassment as retaliation for your reporting the unwanted behavior, consult an experienced and compassionate San Diego sexual harassment attorney like the ones at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP for help.

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