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What is quid pro quo harassment?

| Dec 17, 2020 | Employment Law

Harassment in the workplace is pervasive and damaging. It can harm individuals on many levels and create fear in their private and professional lives. Different forms of harassment and discrimination affect Iowa workers, and one form that exists in different workplaces is sexual harassment.

There are different ways that sexual harassment can manifest at work, and one way is through quid pro quo harassment. This post will discuss quid pro quo harassment but it does not offer any legal advice. Individuals who believe that they are victims of harassment and discrimination at work can contact trusted employment law attorneys in their communities.

The elements of quid pro quo harassment

Quid pro quo harassment is based on an exchange, or “this for that” transaction. It occurs between an employee and someone organizationally above them, like a boss or supervisor. It generally conditions an employment opportunity or benefit on the worker’s agreement to a sexual favor.

For example, a worker may be asked on a date by their supervisor who tells them that they may not be considered for a promotion if they do not acquiesce. The supervisor effectively requires the worker to go on a date with them to advance their career, or to have the opportunity to do so. This form of harassment is wrongful and should not be tolerated.

What to do when confronted with quid pro quo harassment

The steps that a victim of quid pro quo harassment should take may look different depending on the type of environment where they work. In a small organization, it may be impossible for a victim to speak confidentially with a human resources advisor or other authority about their harassment. Larger organizations may have an infrastructure and policy on addressing harassment in the workforce.

However, when sexual harassment impacts a worker’s life, they can speak with an employment law attorney about their concerns and needs. Legal options may exist for those suffering from harassment in the workplace. Their attorneys can advise them on how to address their case-specific needs.