What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment? A Guide for Survivors

What is quid pro quo harassment


According to a recent study, about 12% of women and 10% of men experience some form of quid pro quo sexual harassment during their careers. In California workplaces, this is a fairly common issue. Meeting with a Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer can help you understand how quid pro quo harassment works and how you can file a lawsuit as a survivor.


What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

Because this phrase is in Latin, a lot of people may not know exactly what the phrase itself means, much less what it actually is.

First, let’s break down the Latin:

  • The word “quid” means “what,” but in this context, its meaning is more like “something.”
  • The word “pro” means “for.”
  • “Quo” actually means the same thing as “quid,” but its ending changes since it comes after “pro.”


Put all of these words together, and you have a rough English translation:

“Something for something.”

In other words, “a favor for a favor.”

In the world of sexual harassment, the implication is clear. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves someone offering some kind of reward in exchange for sexual favors.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves two people with different levels of power and influence in the workplace. The person with greater influence and power is the one offering the reward – whether that is higher wages, easier duties, promotion, bonuses, health insurance, or anything else beneficial.

The person in the subservient role is the one being asked to provide favors. This might include going out on dates with a boss, providing a manager with nude photos, or more overt sexual acts.


How Do Employees Prove Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

You might be wondering how you can prove sexual harassment with no witnesses. A civil lawsuit only requires a “preponderance” of the evidence. This is a lower standard compared to a criminal lawsuit, which requires you to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A preponderance of evidence means that the other party is “more likely than not” to have committed the offense. You can prove your case in a number of ways, even if you have no witnesses who can testify on your behalf. The courts understand that these incidents are often intimate and private, and it is not like an abuser will commit harassment in plain view of the entire workforce.

Text messages, social media posts, and emails can all be helpful. If your abuser offered you benefits in exchange for sexual favors via text messaging, this is some of the best evidence you can get.

Another strategy may be to call upon other employees (both current and former) who have experienced the same type of harassment from the accused employee. You can show that there is a prevalent pattern of harassment in your workplace.


Are Threats Enough to Prove Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

Yes, threats constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment in many cases. For example:

  • Threatening to fire you unless you provide sexual favors
  • Threatening to demote you unless you provide sexual favors
  • Threatening to deny promotion unless you provide sexual favors
  • Threatening to cut your pay unless you provide sexual favors
  • Threatening to expose the relationship to your friends and family
  • Threatening you with physical violence if you expose the illicit relationship


These are only a few examples. If you have been threatened by your employer, you should always get in touch with an attorney. If you fear for your safety, call the police instead.


Elements of a Quid Pro Quo Harassment Claim

In order to achieve any success with your lawsuit, you will need to establish the following elements:

  • You were an employee of the company or you were in the process of applying for a job with the company
  • The harasser made unwelcome sexual advances
  • Employment benefits were promised if you accepted these advances and/or consequences were threatened if you denied them
  • The harasser was a supervisor or agent within the company at the time of the harassment
  • You suffered real harm
  • The harasser directly caused this harm


What if the Request for a Sexual Favor is Turned Down?

Even if you turn down the request for a sexual favor, you have still experienced a form of illegal harassment. You are fully entitled to take legal action as a result. For example, you may have faced the threat of losing your job because you refused to provide sexual favors.

Perhaps you really did lose your job. You may have experienced financial losses as a result of this refusal, like the loss of a promotion.. You may have had your hours decreased. Whatever the case may be, it is entirely possible that you experienced real harm even if you refused to provide sexual favors.


What if I Report Sexual Harassment and Get Fired?

If your employer fires you for reporting sexual harassment, this is a form of wrongful termination. Wrongful termination is illegal under California law, and you can file a lawsuit to recover damages in this situation.


What Damages Can I Claim in a Quid Pro Quo Case?

You can claim a range of damages when you file a quid pro quo sexual harassment lawsuit in California:

  • Lost Wages: If you were fired or missed out on benefits as a result of the harassment, you can get compensated for these losses. For example, you might have been denied a promotion. If this is the case, then you may claim the salary that you would have earned if you had agreed to provide sexual favors.
  • Emotional Distress: Emotional distress is a general term that describes a range of non-economic damages. You can receive compensation for the psychological impact of the harassment.
  • Attorneys Fees:  Under California law, you are entitled to recover attorneys’ fees if you prevail in a sexual harassment claim.


What is the Difference Between Hostile Work Environment and Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

“Hostile work environment” is the type of sexual harassment that most of us are familiar with. This might include unwanted touching, sexual comments, sharing of inappropriate photos, sexting, and so on. With this type of harassment, the workplace becomes so hostile that the victim can no longer work effectively.

Quid pro quo is more explicit – promises or threats if the employee does or does not give in to the sexual conduct.


Document and Substantiate All Claims of Harassment

It is always a good idea to document everything. Write a diary of your experiences. Send written reports of your experiences to the HR department in your company. Make sure that you communicate with your company’s representatives in writing whenever possible. You can use all kinds of evidence when suing for harassment, including social media evidence, text messages, emails, and many other digital documents. These documents can be crucial during a lawsuit.


Why Should I Hire Fraigun Law for a Quid Pro Quo Case? 

If you have been searching for a qualified Los Angeles employment lawyer who can help you with your quid pro sexual harassment lawsuit, look no further than Fraigun Law. When you work with Fraigun Law, you can gain access to a lawyer with a wealth of experience in California employment law. We can guide you toward justice and compensation for everything you have been forced to endure.






Read More Related Articles

Can an Employer Fire You for No Reason? The Answer May Shock You

Introduction Losing your job is bad enough, but what happens when your boss doesn’t provide you with a valid reason for your dismissal? You end...

Recently Fired? Check These Wrongful Termination Examples

According to Inc. Magazine, wrongful terminations have been rising sharply over the past few years. Unfortunately, many of these cases still go unreported, and the...

Without Cause Termination: Can I Sue?

Hundreds of thousands of California workers are fired each year – and many of these people are terminated illegally. The Golden State may have some...

When Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination in California?

In 2021 alone, over 61,000 businesses were charged with violating employment laws. Many of these violations involved wrongful termination. The most claims involved discrimination on...

Wrongful Termination Statute of Limitations

The loss of a job can put a tremendous burden on an employee and their family. A worker who was fired, laid off, or otherwise...

5 Situations When Being Fired May Be Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination is a somewhat nebulous legal term. Many people misconstrue the meaning behind wrongful termination. These cases are very difficult to prove, especially due...