Sexual Harassment: 'Quid Pro Quo' vs. 'Hostile Environment' Harassment

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Feminism Types and Definitions: Liberal, Socialist, Culture & Radical

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:05 Sexual Harassment
  • 1:03 Quid Pro Quo
  • 2:38 Hostile Environment
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wind Goodfriend
Sexual harassment occurs any time comments, gestures, or physical contact transpires which is unwelcome, repetitive, and deliberate. This lesson defines two types of sexual harassment ('quid pro quo' and 'hostile environment') and provides examples of each.

Sexual Harassment

Imagine you go on a job interview. You're all dressed up, you have your resume ready to go, and you feel ready for the interview. But when you get there, as you walk through the office building, you notice calendars posted on the walls showing men and women who don't have a lot of clothes on. When you get to the boss's office, instead of asking you questions about your work experience, all she does is talk about how good looking you are and how you would get the job if you're willing to sleep with her in exchange. If this happened to you, would you take the job?

Ideally, this kind of thing would never happen on a job interview, but unfortunately, we don't always get to live in an ideal world. The example we just discussed is a prime example of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment, in general, can be defined as any time sexual comments, gestures, or physical contact occurs that is unwelcome, repetitive, and deliberate. Sexual harassment can come in two forms; let's talk about each form and go over some examples.

Quid Pro Quo

The first type of sexual harassment is probably the more well known, and it's called quid pro quo harassment. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that literally translated means 'this for that.' In other words, in this form of sexual harassment, someone with more power demands sexual favors from someone with less power and makes threats if these demands aren't met. So basically, what we're saying here is that a boss might tell an employee that he or she has to submit to sexual advances, and if these advances are refused, the employee might get fired or might not be considered for a promotion.

If you think about the example from the beginning of this lesson, you saw quid pro quo harassment there. The boss, during the interview, suggested you would get the job in exchange for sex. That's definitely quid pro quo harassment! Any request for sexual contact that comes with a threat is harassment. The threat could be something bad, such as getting fired, or it could be not getting something good, such as being hired, getting a raise, or getting a promotion at work.

While many people think of sexual harassment in workplace settings, it can occur in any setting where one person has power over another. For example, many women in the United States military have complained that they have experienced sexual harassment from their supervisors in the military.

Another place where harassment can be seen is on college or university campuses - between students and professors. If a professor tells a student that a grade will only be changed if the student provides sexual favors, that's quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Hostile Environment

While quid pro quo sexual harassment is unethical but fairly straightforward, the second type of sexual harassment is a little more ambiguous. The second type is called hostile environment. In this form of harassment, sexual gestures, images, or conversations at work make an individual uncomfortable to a level that interferes with his or her work.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account