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What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?


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Unwanted sexual comments and actions can make places that should be safe into hazardous environments for victims. Victims of sexual harassment have protections under Colorado state and federal law but enforcing one’s rights can mean having to take strong action to stand up to one’s aggressor. Doing so with the support of competent and caring victim advocates can make the process smoother and less confusing.

Different forms of harassing conduct can fall into different categories of punishable behavior. For example, one type of harassment that a victim may suffer in the employment context is quid pro quo harassment. Quid pro quo harassment happens when employment actions are conditioned on the fulfillment of sexual requests made by a victim’s supervisor.

Quid pro quo harassment can occur at any phase of a person’s employment. An individual may find their hiring conditioned their acceptance of a date with the interviewer, or an employee may be told that their promotion will be denied unless they provide their boss with a sexual request. It is generally required that the individual creating the quid pro quo situation is the boss or supervisor of the situation’s victim.

Quid pro quo harassment damages victims because it can place them in an unwinnable situation. If a victim does not go along with the quid pro quo presented by their boss, they may lose their job or an opportunity to advance in their career. If they do acquiesce to the quid pro quo, they have been sexually victimized by a person who has power of them.

Victims of sexual harassment, including quid pro quo harassment, have options for protecting their careers and their legal rights. Before pursuing action on one’s own, a victim can elect to consult with an attorney that makes sexual harassment law a part of their practice. This informative post should not be read as legal advice or guidance on specific legal cases.

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