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How do quid pro quo and hostile environment differ?

It is common for people to be confused about what constitutes workplace sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is prevalent and frequently happens in workplaces across the U.S. It may be less obvious than people telling obscene jokes, but it might affect people every day. There are two main types of workplace sexual harassment, and it is important for you to recognize and to understand both. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler are available to help you if you have been the victim of sexual harassment in your workplace.

What are quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when receiving an employment benefit is contingent on providing sexual favors. For instance, quid pro quo harassment might occur when your supervisor tells you that you will receive a promotion if you will submit to your supervisor’s sexual demands. In most cases, this type of sexual harassment happens between a person in a position of authority and the person’s subordinate. Examples of employment benefits in the context of quid pro quo harassment might include the following:

  • Receiving recommendations or positive performance reviews
  • Receiving promotions
  • Receiving raises
  • Receiving sought-after shifts or work assignments

Schedule an appointment today. Call (856) 685-7420 or

Schedule an appointment today.
Call (856) 685-7420 or

Quid pro quo harassment may also happen when a person in a position of power threatens a negative job action for refusing to submit to sexual demands. For instance, if you are threatened with being fired, demoted, receiving bad reviews or other consequences for refusing to provide sexual favors, this would constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Even a single incident of quid pro quo harassment is grounds to file a lawsuit and is illegal. Employers may be liable for the acts of a supervisor who commits quid pro quo harassment because the supervisors are deemed to be acting on the employers’ behalf.

Hostile work environment harassment occurs when there are pervasive or frequent actions of a sexual nature that make the environment hostile to such an extent that you are unable to perform your job duties. Examples of such conduct may include the following:

  • Frequent telling of obscene jokes
  • Displaying offensive or inappropriate materials
  • Unwanted touching
  • Interfering with your ability to freely move
  • Unwanted and persistent interactions such as constantly asking for dates

The conduct must be unwanted and pervasive enough to make your work environment a hostile one. An isolated incident is normally not enough to constitute this type of harassment. Hostile work environment claims are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment does not require that an employment benefit was at risk. It is not tied to threats or promises of job actions and may be found at all levels of jobs. Another distinction is that coworkers may create hostile work environments by their actions for others who were not the targets of their behaviors.

For employers to be liable for hostile work environment sexual harassment between co-workers, plaintiffs must be able to show that the employers either should have known or knew about the harassment but failed to take steps to prevent it. If your employer immediately took corrective action when you informed him or her, your employer may have a valid defense. If your harasser was a supervisor, however, your employer may be liable automatically.

Contact Swartz Swidler

If you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, it is important for you to act quickly. The lawyers at Swartz Swidler can guide you through the process. Call us today to schedule your appointment so that you can learn more.

Most Frequently Asked Question: Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is to contact one of our attorneys. For more information check out the FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page

Most Frequently Asked Question:
Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is contact one of our attorneys. For more information on a just a few scenarios checkout the flip box FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page.

Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733

Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733