You can scarcely find a local dinner table without hearing a conversation about Trump and Quid Pro Quo. What’s funny to me is that this is Latin phrase makes up the basis of one of the most perilous liability issues in sexual harassment. One that every risk manager should be intimately familiar with. If your sexual harassment training doesn’t cover this topic in detail then you have larger problems. So why is there so much confusion around this quirky phrase?
QPQ quite literally means This For That. It’s a trade. It is done in every business transaction you have ever conducted. It’s part of every ask, favor, and barter. Buy a house, sign all this paperwork and we will give you the money. Buy a new phone, give us your ID, sign these documents, pay us and we will provide you service. Get hired at an agency, sign here, don’t do anything wrong, and let us investigate you if you do, and by the way, do some work and we will give you a paycheck. Apply for a grant, promise to use the money only for this and the Feds will give you the money. Give us back the hostages and we won’t blow you up. All of these are trades, this for that, QPQ.
The main difference is that those are legal trades. Legal by the definition contracts. Meeting the definitions and criteria to make a legal trade between two parties of sound mind and body. The confusion lies in the way and commonality by which QPQ has been taught over the years. It has exclusively been associated with illegality. The stuff of hollywood blockbusters and really poor risk management trainers.
These kinds of examples, sleep with me and you get a raise; fire this person because of their race and I will make you a manager, don’t hire this person because of their disability and you can have the corner office. You get the idea.
The crux of the QPQ is that it must be an illegal trade. Something that violates laws and company policies. Life is about trades, legal ones. Without them we have chaos. As Winston is fond of saying “Rules, without them we live with the animals.”
QPQ is strict liability in sexual harassment terms, meaning that if the offer is made, then you are on the hook whether accepted, acknowledge or not. Again, this is in sexual harassment terms. Illegal terms. Not in everyday trade terms. The Federal Government has strings attached to every grant application and so do most public agencies when it comes to all their policies and procedures. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of mistaking legal vs illegal QPQ. For if you do, you may find yourself embroiled in a good ole fashioned political debate which you have no chance of winning.