Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Quid Pro Quo Definition:

Latin: something for something.

Related Terms: Contract Law, Consideration

The giving of something in exchange for another thing of equal value.

Some American jurists have suggested that quid pro quo stands for the consideration of a contract; that it refers to the requirement that something be exchanged, flow to each of the contracting party, for there to be a valid contract.

Viz., Ballentine's Law Dictionary:

Quid pro quo: The consideration for a contract. That which is supplied by one party in consideration of that which is supplied by the other party."

As a further example of the use of the term quid pro quo in law, consider the suggestion of Canadian author Catherine McKinnnon who describes a variety of workplace sexual harassment she calls quid pro quo harassment: job benefits onditioned on availability of sex or physical contact, refusal leading to discharge, discipline or negative recommendations for promotion.

But that phrase had long become part of American law. For example, these words of Justice Holloway of the United States Court of Appeals in Hicks v Gates Rubber:

"The gravamen of a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim is that tangible job benefits are conditioned on an employee's submission to conduct of a sexual nature and that adverse job consequences result from the employee's refusal to submit to the conduct."


  • Hicks v Gates Rubber, 833 F. 2d 1406 (1987)
  • MacKinnon, Catherine, Sexual Harassment of Working Women (Toronto: Yale University Press, 1979). Referred to in Foisy c. Bell Canada, 18 D.L.R. (4th) 222 (1984, QCSC)

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