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What does the term quid pro quo mean?

When you hear about sexual harassment in the workplace, you often hear the term "quid pro quo." It's very important, but what exactly is meant by this phrase?

Essentially, it just means "something given or received for something else." It is a Latin phrase, and it does not by any means have to relate only to sexual harassment. It just refers to the act of bartering one thing for another.

In terms of sexual harassment, it is usually related to the offer of something in the workplace in exchange for a sexual relationship or sexual favors of some type.

For instance, maybe your boss has always flirted with you. It bothered you, but you just kept quiet because you liked the job, and you figured it wouldn't amount to anything. Maybe that was just how your boss treated everyone, you told yourself.

Then it took a more personal turn. Your boss asked you out. You turned them down politely. They told you, in no uncertain terms, that you would get the upcoming promotion if you spent the night with them. That's all it would take to advance your career.

They may not have touched you or acted on those offers in any way, but this is still direct harassment. This example is fairly obvious simply to show how it works but remember that it may not be quite as clear in real life. Your boss may just try to hint that a little on-the-side relationship could help you out because of their position of authority.

If this does happen to you, it's critical that you understand your legal rights. No employee deserves to have this type of workplace.

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It can be hard to take the first steps in these cases when your livelihood is at stake, but know that you have rights available to you. Let us help you determine what you can do to bring an end to your employer's unlawful behavior.