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Interesting and Relevant Articles on Sexual Harassment

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment vs Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?

Written by Josh B.
Posted On January 28, 2019

All sexual harassment can be categorized into two broad types: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo––a Latin phrase meaning this for **that–– is sexual harassment that involves a proposed exchange of actions, as in if you do this, then you will get that. For example, an employee goes to her supervisor to ask for a salary increase, and the supervisor replies that she can have the salary increase if the employee agrees to give the supervisor a kiss. Quid pro quo sexual harassment can also occur as part of a threat, specifically a threat to remove a job benefit unless a demand is met. For example, a supervisor tells an employee that the employee's work hours will be cut unless she agrees to go on a date with the supervisor. In both instances, the supervisor makes an aspect of the job contingent upon the employee performing a specific act.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a harasser is in a position of authority over the person being harassed. In this type of harassment, the harasser is usually an employee's supervisor. The supervisor has power over an employee and can promise a job benefit or threaten to remove a job benefit as part of the proposed exchange.

Sexual harassment that does not include a proposed quid pro quo arrangement is classified under the second broad type: namely, a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment includes words or actions that are so severe and pervasive that they create a work atmosphere that is abusive and intimidating. For example, an employee's colleague constantly uses sexual innuendo and inappropriate gestures when speaking with the employee. A hostile work environment can also result from a single incident. For example, an employee's colleague touches her in a sexually aggressive manner.

Unlike quid pro quo harassment, sexual harassment that results in a hostile work environment does not necessarily involve a person in a position of authority. A hostile work environment can result from the words and actions of anyone within an organization, not just those in supervisory roles.

In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between the two types of sexual harassment. Both quid pro quo harassment and harassment that results in a hostile work environment are equally detrimental to a workplace and to the individuals involved, and under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both are illegal.


sexual harassment quid pro quo sexual harassment hostile work evironment
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