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Quid Pro Quo vs. Hostile Work Environment

January 7, 2020

There are two main types of workplace sexual harassment. As an employer, it is important to recognize and understand both.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Generally Falls Under Two Categories: 

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

  • “Something in exchange for something”
  • Implied or express indications that an employee’s submission to or rejection of sexual advances will influence personnel decisions regarding an employee’s employment.
  • Requires someone with the ability to make or effectively recommend material changes in the victim’s terms or conditions of employment (e.g., supervisor, manager, etc.).
  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

Hostile Work Environment

  • Harassment based upon the victim’s protected class (sex, race, color, religion, etc.).
  • Sufficiently severe or pervasive as to materially alter working conditions.
  • May be performed by a supervisor, manager, co-worker or even an agent or client of the employer.
  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

The workplace is defined as company property at any time, the location of any company sponsored activity, and anywhere business is being conducted.

It is critical to make sure your company's managers, supervisors, HR personnel and employees are educated on discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation through proper training.