It can be hard to define sexual harassment, as it largely has to do with someone’s perception of events. What makes the work environment hostile or what makes a joke inappropriate is relatively subjective.
However, there is one form of sexual harassment that has a much more straightforward definition. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is an ongoing issue in many workplaces. Knowing what constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment will make it easier for you to take action when a manager or co-worker oversteps.
Managers and co-workers shouldn’t weaponize their authority
Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that implies an exchange, as it means “something for something.” When you understand the definition of quid pro quo, this kind of sexual harassment makes much more sense.
It involves one person offering work benefits or threatening work consequences in relation to their request for romantic or sexual favors. A supervisor telling you they’ll give you a raise if you engage in certain activity behind closed doors is quid pro quo sexual harassment. So is threatening to write you up for your poor workplace attitude if you refuse to go on a date with them.
Although quid pro quo harassment is easier to define than other forms of sexual harassment, it can be harder to prove because it often occurs in private with only two people present. If you keep records of your encounters that lead to inappropriate requests, you can potentially build a case against the person harassing you.
Learning about the different kinds of sexual harassment you might encounter on the job can help you protect yourself from the misconduct of others.