Quid pro quo harassment is a type of workplace harassment where one favour is exchanged for another. "Quid pro quo" is a Latin term that essentially means "this for that". Indeed, quid pro quo sexual harassment certainly is "this for that. This harassment occurs when someone with authority uses his or her power over others to gain sexual favours or other benefits or makes hints towards such a deal. Here are some examples of offers these authority figures give in exchange for a favour :
- Employees will be rewarded with a raise or promotion.
- Employees won't be fired or reprimanded.
- Job candidates will be hired.
This type of harassment entails a harasser that is a superior - whether it's a supervisor, manager, professor, or any other person of power - taking advantage of their power over an individual and demanding sexual favours for job benefit. For instance, a manager might offer an employee a highly-prized project or deal which is contingent upon some kind of sexual favour in return. Even if the manager doesn't lay out those terms explicitly, they can sometimes make it clear that the employee's success and progress depends upon their compliance.
People in power are able to offer raises, benefits, special deals, recommendations and certain shifts - so it can be easier for them to get away with this behaviour by offering these incentives. This type of harassment is also effective for the harasser because they can also offer a negative consequence to not following through.
Sexual harassment that does not include a pro quo arrangement is classified under the second broad type: namely, a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment includes words or actions that are so severe and pervasive that they create a work atmosphere that is abusive and intimidating.
In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between the two types of sexual harassment. Both quid pro quo harassment and harassment that results in a hostile work environment are equally detrimental to a workplace and to the individuals involved.
The manner of investigating and dealing with the complaint under both circumstances may be similar as suggested by the POSH policy in your organisation.