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Quid Pro Quo

QUID PRO QUO

[Latin, What for what or Something for something.] The mutual consideration that passes between two parties to a contractual agreement, thereby rendering the agreement valid and binding.

In common usage, quid pro quo refers to the giving of one valuable thing for another. Quid pro quo has the same meaning in the law but with varying implications in different contexts.

Quid pro quo, or the exchange of valuable consideration, is required for the formation of a valid contract between individuals who are not merchants. This requirement of mutual consideration, or the exchange of something of value, indicates the sincerity of the parties' intent to adhere to the contract between them.

The term quid pro quo is also used in the contexts of politics and sexual harassment. In politics quid quo pro can refer to the use of political office for personal benefit. For instance, an elected official might promise favorable governmental treatment to a person in exchange for something of value. This form of quid pro quo would be a violation of the law. On the federal level, the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 1951 [1994]) makes it a felony for a public official to extort property under color of office. Trading campaign contributions for promises of official actions or inactions are also prohibited under the act.

In the area of sexual harassment, quid pro quo describes a form of sexual blackmail. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is the conditioning of employment benefits on an employee's sub-mission to unwelcome sexual conduct. Title VII of the civil rights act (42 U.S.C.A. § 2000 (e)-2 [1988]) provides a remedy for quid pro quo sexual harassment. Most courts follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidelines and hold that the necessary quid pro quo exists if submission to unwelcome sexual advances "is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment" or if submission to unwelcome sexual advances "is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual" (29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(a)(1)-(2) [1997]).

further readings

Dickinson, Lynn T. 1995. "Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: A New Standard." William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 2 (fall).

Yarbrough, Steven C. 1996. "The Hobbs Act in the Nineties: Confusion of the Quid Pro Quo Standard in Extortion Cases Involving Public Officials." Tulsa Law Journal 31 (summer).

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quid pro quo

quid pro quo / ˈkwid ˌprō ˈkwō/ • n. (pl. quos) a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something: the pardon was a quid pro quo for their help in releasing hostages.

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quid pro quo

quid pro quo (in apothecaries' language) one thing in place of another; one thing in return for another, tit for tat. XVI. — L. quid something, prō for, instead of, quō (abl. of quid) something.

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