Company Liability: Sexual Harassment Quid Pro Quo

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, and sex.

Federal law is broken into two categories: Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment. This article will focus on Quid Pro Quo.

A type of Sexual Harassment, Quid Quid Pro Quo, means this for that. In other words, something is given in return for something else.

This category of sexual harassment includes:

  • unwelcome sexual advances
  • requests for sexual favors
  • other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

The caveat here, however is that this harassment occurs when this conduct is tied to either explicitly or implicitly to the employee’s employment.

In other words, accepting or rejecting the harassment effects employment decisions regarding the employee.


Quid Pro Quo occurs when a manager or supervisor makes unwelcome sexual advances toward an employee and either states or implies that the employee must submit in order to keep his or her job or to receive a raise, promotion, or job assignment. This can only occur when the harasser has authority over the employee.

Employers are at great risk as this type of harassment need only occur once. This type of harassment does not have to meet the “unwelcome and repeated” requirements of the hostile environment law.

The courts have ruled that even if an employee submits to the demands and receives promotions, raises, etc. a case still exists. In addition, the supervisor may also be held liable.

Court Case

In a court case involving 15 women, the CEO of Del Laboratories of Farmingdale, N.Y, who occupied the most powerful position in the company, sought sexual favors in return for job benefits or opportunities, either by making promises to the women he harassed or by threatening them with unfavorable conditions if they refused his advancements.

The case also contains hostile work environment issues, as well as, retaliation.

Award: $1,185,000 in monetary relief

For more on other types of Sexual Harassment, read about Sexual Favoritism or Sexual Harassment by Non-Employees.

Protect your business from this type of harassment. Make sure your employees are well-trained in harassment and discrimination prevention and awareness.