quid pro quo

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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).

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

quid pro quo

(kwid proh kwoh) n. Latin for "something for something," to identify what each party to an agreement expects from the other, sometimes called mutual consideration. Example of its use: "What is the quid pro quo for my entering into this deal?" (See: consideration)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

quid pro quo

‘something in exchange for something else’.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

QUID PRO QUO. This phrase signifies verbatim, what for what. It is applied to the consideration of a contract. See Co. Litt. 47, b; 7 Mann. & Gr. 998.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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