Of the two types of sexual harassment, quid pro quo is likely the type you are most familiar with, even if you do not realize it. What is quid pro quo sexual harassment? It is a type of illegal discrimination that occurs when someone in a position of power requires an employee to accept or tolerate offensive, sex-based behavior in exchange for keeping their job benefits or advancing at work. 

If you have concerns that you might have been exposed to quid pro quo sexual harassment on the job, we can help you recover the legal relief you deserve. Consult one of our experienced sexual harassment attorneys at Boucher LLP about what you have endured, and we can help protect you.

What Does Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Mean?

First, let’s review what sexual harassment is in general. Federal laws define unlawful harassment as unwanted behavior that is based on sex, age (40 or older), nationality, disability, genetics, gender, religion, or color. Sexual harassment is sex-based discrimination that can come in the form of hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment.

The sex-based misconduct that qualifies as harassment could include:

  • Sexual advances; 
  • Unpermitted touching; 
  • Sex-based insults, jokes, or conversation; or 
  • Graphic, sexual gestures, or displays.

The phrase “quid pro quo” means giving one thing for another. Employees are unlawfully pressured to give one thing for another when they face quid pro quo sexual harassment, meaning their employer demands that they accept or endure unwanted, sex-based misconduct to receive continued or better benefits at work or avoid negative consequences. These could include:

  • Keeping the same pay,
  • Receiving increased pay,
  • A job promotion,
  • Consideration for training or other work opportunities,
  • Continued insurance or retirement benefits,  
  • Continued employment,
  • A neutral or positive performance review, 
  • Avoidance of a demotion, or
  • Avoidance of other disciplinary action.

A sexual harassment attorney can help you identify whether you experienced these demands as a result of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

What Does Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Look Like? 

When many think of quid pro quo sexual harassment, they think of someone getting fired for refusing to date their boss. This is a “classic” example of quid pro quo sexual harassment, but it is not the only one. 

Quid pro quo sexual harassment can include the following: 

  • An employer threatening to dock an employee’s pay or demote them if they decline a sexual advance from a supervisor or client;
  • A manager promising an employee a raise or promotion in exchange for sexual favors; 
  • A supervisor threatening to discipline an employee for turning down requests for dates; or, 
  • A manager withholding work opportunities if an employee refuses to engage in sexual conversations or refuses to dress a certain way. 

Whenever an aspect of your job hangs in the balance because of an employer’s or supervisor’s sex-based demands, you are likely experiencing sexual harassment and should consult a knowledgeable attorney at Our firm. 

You also do not have to be a direct party to harassment to have rights to legal remedies in a quid pro quo case. Quid pro quo harassment can hurt everyone in a workplace because sex-based favoritism toward one employee can block opportunities for other employees. Threats or punishment motivated by a coworker’s refusal to accept sexual misconduct can make others in the workplace feel unsafe and decimate morale. If you notice coworkers who submit to unlawful sexual advances getting rewarded or peers who rebuff advances being punished, speak to our experienced legal team about your options for filing a complaint. 

Filing Complaints in Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Cases

When you file a sexual harassment complaint or lawsuit, you can recover the following:

  • Economic damages to cover your losses, 
  • Non-economic damages to pay you for your emotional anguish, 
  • Punitive damages to punish your employer for abhorrent behavior,
  • Attorney fees and legal costs, and 
  • Injunctive relief to change workplace culture or reinstate any workplace conditions you lost.

And there are several ways to seek remedies in a case, including:

Note that if your goal is to sue your employer in court, you must file an action with the EEOC or CRD first and wait for the agency to give you notice that you have a right to sue. 

In most cases, starting your action with the CRD is your best option. This is because California’s anti-discrimination laws cover more people and give employees more time to file a complaint. Under California law, individuals whose employers have at least one employee can file sexual harassment complaints with the CRD, and they have three years to file. Under federal law, non-federal employees generally have only 180 days to file sexual harassment charges with the EEOC, and their employers must have at least 15 employees if they want to file. 

Contact Boucher LLP Today

Justice, empowerment, and closure for our clients: These are the things we tirelessly fight for at Boucher LLP. Our skilled sexual harassment attorneys have decades of combined experience, and we are passionate about setting the course straight when employers mistreat members of their workforce. 

With our passion and experience, we have also become leaders in the California legal community. Our firm is sought out to teach other attorneys how to be effective advocates. We are award-winning lawyers who are regularly recognized as top attorneys in the State of California. 

When you are seeking a compassionate sexual harassment attorney who knows how to fulfill your legal needs, talk to us. We can win what you need at the negotiation table or in the courtroom. Schedule an appointment today by calling 818-340-5400 or filling out the contact form on our website.