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Quid pro quo sexual harassment: What is it?

Sexual harassment scenarios can be divided into two broad categories, one of them being quid pro quo harassment. This is often the easiest to identify as a victim, but it's not always easy to prove.

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase. Loosely translated into English, the phrase means "something for something." It means that you give up or do something in order to receive something in return. That alone isn't illegal - quid pro quo relationships exist all the time in business and some of them are even formalized by legal contracts. One person might provide a certain piece of work; in return, he or she is paid an agreed upon amount of money.

What is illegal is making sex or anything of a sexual nature part of a quid pro quo working relationship. Someone cannot demand sexual favors or even sexual attention such as flirting, a romantic night out or sexy pictures in exchange for giving you a job. You also can't be fired from a job because you refused to provide sexual favors or engage in a sexual or romantic relationship with someone.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment doesn't always come with strings attached to your job, though. It's still sexual harassment if someone demands sexual favors in exchange for higher pay, a better office, a new title or just keeping something about your work a secret.

If someone is demanding sexual favors in the workplace, then speak to your supervisor or human resource representative. You have a right not to be retaliated against for speaking up about harassment, and if you feel there is no good option for addressing this in the workplace, consider reaching out to a lawyer for advice.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?," accessed Oct. 28, 2016

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