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What does quid pro quo mean?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2022 | Employment law |

You may have heard the term quid pro quo, and you know that it can relate to business and employment practices in some fashion. But you’re certainly not alone if you’re not sure exactly what this means or why it usually comes with a negative connotation.

First and foremost, quid pro quo means that one thing is being exchanged for another. For example, one person is seeking an agreement wherein they will do something for another person in exchange for a favor themselves. Two business owners may do this if they think that the exchange of services would be mutually beneficial. 

There may be more you need to know:

Why is this a bad thing?

There isn’t anything inherently bad about this, counter to many beliefs, especially in the example above. The idea of an exchange of favors is older than money itself. The issue is that quid pro quo is often talked about in reference to sexual harassment.

In a situation like this, it could be a company owner who makes all of the hiring decisions or a supervisor who has the ability to give promotions. They have power over other workers, and they could promise a certain worker that they will get a promotion or a raise. 

In exchange, however, they’re asking for sexual favors. This is illegal because it is a violation of the employee’s rights and puts pressure on them in the workplace. 

This request for favors in return isn’t always explicitly stated, but could just be inferred. Either way, it is very problematic for employers to treat employees in this fashion, and it is definitely illegal in the workplace.

If something like this has happened to you, you need to know about all of the legal options at your disposal. If you have further questions, an attorney can help.