More than 40 years ago, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines stating that “sexual harassment” is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. These EEOC Guidelines explained that sexual harassment could take the form of either quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment harassment.

If you are an employee who is doing research online to figure out whether what you experienced is sexual harassment in the legal sense, you may be asking yourself – what does this legal jargon even mean? In this blog, we examine the two primary categories of sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Harassment may take the form of an economic quid pro quo where a supervisor’s requests for sexual favors are linked to the grant or denial of job benefits, such as getting or retaining a job or receiving a favorable performance review or promotion. The essence of the quid pro quo theory of sexual harassment ( is that a supervisor relies on his or her “apparent or actual authority to extort sexual consideration from an employee.” Therein lies the quid pro quo.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Hostile environment sexual harassment cases are conceptually different from quid pro quo sexual harassment. Hostile work environment sexual harassment may involve various forms of verbal and physical conduct, of both a sexual or nonsexual nature, which have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or offensive working environment.

To state a prima facie case for “hostile environment” sexual harassment under either Title VII or the FEHA, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) the plaintiff was subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, conduct, or comments; (2) the harassment complained of was based on sex; and (3) the harassment was “so severe or pervasive” as to “alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.

Contact Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C.

Employees in Southern California concerned about sexual harassment in the workplace can contact Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C.’s experienced lawyers for advice. We offer a complimentary case evaluation so potential clients can learn about their options. Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. may also offer contingency-fee services, which removes the need for clients to pay upfront fees and retainers. Clients come to us to get actual results. Contact Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. today. Read the following blog post to learn the importance of sexual harassment training for employees.