Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

In the United States, quid pro quo sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of sexual harassment. It normally happens regarding:

  • Job benefits (promotions, salary raises, employment, and performance expectations) that are made contingent on the provision of sexual favors by an individual with high status, such as an employee’s supervisor.
  • When the refusal to engage in sexual favors results in those of a higher status inflicting unfair treatment on their employees. Those who perform this type of behavior will prevent the employee(s) they are targeting from achieving any beneficial opportunities within the workplace.

Hostile Environment Harassment

In the United States, sexual harassment that creates a hostile enviroment is prohibited by law. This type of action can be inflicted by supervisors, coworkers, and non-employees when in work-related areas. Examples of hostile environment harassment include:

  • Exhibiting pornographic images or cartoons.
  • Physical touching or grabbing another individuals body part(s).
  • Making sexual remarks or jokes.

Plaintiffs are not required to prove a tangible employment action, change in terms of employment, or that an economic injury took place to file an actionable claim for this type of issue. Courts hold that both employers and harassers will be liable for the damages in harassment cases that result in an abusive work environment. 


When it comes to a quid pro quo case, the plaintiff is not required to show evidence that the action they suffered was severe or pervasive. However, the plaintiff does need to prove that the tangible employment action came about from rejecting the supervisor’s sexual demands

When it comes to a hostile work environment, cases where the supervisor’s sexual requests are not performed will result in the plaintiff being required to show severe or pervasive conduct. When the employee files a prima facie case of quid pro quo sexual harassment, the employer is required to prove that the harassment never took place for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons. 

If the employee gives legitimate reasons for each action that was done to them, then the employer may respond to those allegations by making convincing statements that the reasons mentioned are not the basis for the employment decisions and also emphasize that they were merely a pretext for unlawful discrimination. 

When it comes to hostile work environment harassment, there are a few requirements when providing evidence. The harasser’s actions must be considered severe or pervasive enough to have the effect of adversely changing the conditions of the victim’s employment and establish an abusive workplace. 

One incident could be considered as harassment, especially if is particularly offensive, serious in nature, such as sexual assault. Having many smaller actions combined together to create a high level of seriousness along with consistency will be considered as harassment, as well. 

Employer Liability

Generally, employers are held liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment. Supervisors and managers who abuse their power to fulfill their sexual desires are considered to be acting on behalf of their employer. 

It is strictly emphasized that the employer will always be held liable for this type of case because it will result in a tangible employment action. 

These types of adverse actions include:

  • Getting demoted.
  • Getting fired.
  • Unnecessary or unfavorable changes made with a job position or work assignment. 
  • Employee resignation may also qualify as being a tangible action since the employee had a difficult time tolerating the abusive working environment and had no choice but to quit.  

For a hostile work environment, there are various standards of liability that are applied to employers who create a hostile work environment linked to sexual harassment. This depends on the identity of the harasser. 

Normally, employers will be held liable if a supervisor is the harasser. But, employers have the capability of escaping liability or minimizing their damages by conducting specific affirmative defense. For this process, the employer is expected to provide proof that they used reasonable care to prevent any type of harassing behavior. They must also mention that the employee failed to take any preventive or corrective opportunities that were given to them by the employer. 

If this type of case involves a co-worker or non-employee, the employer is considered liable if they knew or should have been aware of the sexual misconduct. The standard of liability remains the same for harassment that is initiated by non-employees.


Remedies for both hostile work environment and quid pro quo are very similar. Both include compensatory damages for: 

  • Medical bills.
  • Future economic losses.
  • Loss of happiness of life.
  • Back pay.

Another type of award that may be offered is punitive damages. For a hostile work environment,  this will only be awarded if the employer acted with deliberate harm.

What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?

If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The sexual harassment lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling sexual harassment cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a sexual harassment attorney in California call (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected]

Get A Free Consultation


This firm was extremely professional! The took over the entire process for us, from beginning to end… I'm not sure what I was expecting but they were fantastic. They helped us make the right decisions and got us great settlements. My mom doesn't have a yelp account but trust me, I speak for both of us when I say I highly recommend their services.


Neama and Allen are awesome lawyers and handled my case as if it was their own. If you are searching for attentive, aggressive, and compassionate lawyers, this is the law firm you need to go with! Their entire team is so professional and never had me questioning their work…Thank you to everyone who helped me get through this tough time of my life.


I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the whole West Coast Employment Lawyers team for all your attention, help, support, dedication, professionalism, and RESULTS... you guys made the entire experience from start to finish easy, simple, and confusion free. I will recommend you guys to anyone I know that needs a lawyer.