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Quid Pro Quo Vs. Hostile Work Environment: What’s the Difference?

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By definition, sexual harassment is the harassment of a male or a female in a workplace, social setting, or other professional scenario by another male or female that typically involves unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate remarks. Most are familiar with the quid pro quo form of sexual harassment in the workplace, but did you know there is another kind?

Today, our South Jersey work sexual harassment attorneys at The Law Firm of Jacobson & Rooks, LLC want to shed light on the two main forms of sexual harassment and what the key differences are between the two.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is the type of harassment that most people are familiar with. The literal translation of the Latin phrase quid pro quo translates to “something for something” or “this for that.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment is often seen splashed across our television screens and in cinematic scenes where someone in a position of power offers a subordinate something enticing if in return they provide them with sexual favors. An example of this could be a supervisor offering an employee a raise/promotion if they meet his or her sexual demands.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is illegal, and one single incident is grounds for a lawsuit. If you or a loved one have been mistreated and harassed by an employer that you think could potentially fall under quid pro quo sexual harassment, contact our team to start an investigation immediately.

Hostile Work Environment

The other type of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, is when one person is frequently offering unwanted pervasive sexual comments, requests, or advances toward another person. This may include the display of inappropriate or offensive materials, sexual jokes, persistent and unwanted actions, or interference with a person’s ability to move freely.

Unlike quid pro quo sexual harassment, hostile work environment sexual harassment must be consistent in nature or pervasive. If the conduct in question was a single, isolated event that never happened again, then it cannot be treated as a hostile work environment sexual harassment.

What’s the Difference?

The difference between the two types of sexual harassment lies in who is involved. With quid pro quo, an employer or person of power suggests employment benefits or other desirable items in return for sexual favors, and with a hostile work environment, any person in the workplace can create an uncomfortable environment by making frequent and unwelcome comments or actions.

Both forms of sexual harassment are very serious and happen far more often than anyone could imagine. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, but are unsure where to run, contact our Gloucester County area work sexual harassment attorneys today.