Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Extending the Sex Plus Discrimination Doctrine to Age Discrimination Claims

Marc Chase McAllister, Extending the Sex Plus Discrimination Doctrine to Age Discrimination Claims Involving Multiple Discriminatory Motives, 60 Boston College L. Rev. (forthcoming)

This article examines a double judicial split in age discrimination cases, one pertaining to Title VII and the other to the ADEA. First, this article considers whether the Title VII sex-plus discrimination doctrine should apply to discrimination claims specifically combining sex and age, and contends that such claims should be more routinely permitted to combat discrimination against older female employees. Second, this article considers whether the sex-plus discrimination doctrine should extend to age-plus discrimination claims under the ADEA. In a thorough analysis, this article shows that the ADEA’s “but for” standard of causation permits discrimination claims based on the combination of age and another immutable characteristic, like race or gender. Nevertheless, because Congress has not amended the ADEA to clarify how it applies in cases involving multiple discriminatory motives, courts will likely remain hesitant to recognize ADEA plus discrimination claims. Accordingly, this article proposes that Congress amend the ADEA to state that an ADEA plaintiff may prevail upon proof that his or her age was “a motivating factor for an adverse employment action, even though other discriminatory or illegitimate factors may have also motivated the employer.”

October 18, 2018 in Equal Employment, Theory, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

When Smoking was a Feminist Act: Women's Right to Choice and Autonomy

When Smoking was a Feminist Act

Over 100 years ago, a woman was detained by a police officer for smoking a cigarette. After being stopped by an officer on a bicycle on Fifth Avenue in New York City, Mrs. William P. Orrblew smoke in his face and flicked cigarette ash toward him. Her rationale: “Yes, I was smoking a cigarette and I don’t see that I was doing any harm. I have done it in many other places… I think the policeman overstepped his authority.”

 

This incident marked the start of a century-long battle over women’s health, identity and behavior by raising the questions of who could and should smoke. While smoking would eventually become a public health question — cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death — it has continued to generate debates over whether individuals have the right to choose to do something harmful. Throughout history, American women have fought for the right to vote, equal pay and to control their own bodies. But with hard-fought freedom comes choice: must women always choose what others say is right for them?

 

Controlling smoking in the early 20th century frequently was about controlling women’s behavior. Four years after Orr’s detainment for smoking on Fifth Avenue, the Sullivan Ordinance made it illegal for restaurant and bar owners to permit women to smoke in their establishments. The stated rationale from “Bowery moralist and political chieftain” Tim Sullivanwas that “proper” ladies were offended by women’s smoking, and that it certainly wasn’t any kind of attempt by a man to control women’s behavior. Sure.

October 18, 2018 in Healthcare, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

After MeToo, Using the Law of Agency for Strict Liability for Employers for Sexual Harassment

David Oppenheimer, Twenty Years After Faragher and Ellerth, Is It Time to Revisit Strict Liability for On-the-Job Sexual Harassment?

In 1995, I published the attached article in the Cornell Law Review, arguing that a proper application of agency law would impose strict vicarious liability on employers for nearly all on-the-job sexual harassment. (See Exacerbating the Exasperating: Title VII Liability of Employers for Sexual Harassment Committed by Their Supervisors, 81 Cornell L. Rev. 66 (1995).) Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the cases Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998) and Ellerth v. Burlington Industries, 524 U.S. 742 (1998), taking a different approach. The Court held that in the absence of a tangible employment decision (such as termination of employment), an employer sued for sexual harassment could assert an affirmative defense that it had an anti-harassment policy that the employee unreasonably failed to invoke, and that it vacted properly once on notice of the harassment.

 

As the #MeToo movement dramatically illustrates, in the ensuing twenty years, the law of harassment has woefully failed to protect women workers. All too often women harassed on the job find their cases dismissed or decided against them on summary judgment because they failed to properly follow their employer’s anti-discrimination policy, even when the employer knew of the harassment. As Lauren Edelman argues in Working Law (2016), courts have accepted the existence of anti-discrimination policies as persuasive proof of a lack of discrimination/harassment, even in the face of evidence that the policies are ineffective, or serve only a symbolic purpose.

 

This may be a good time, then, to return to the common law of agency, and the duties it imposes on employers to protect the safety of employees. For good reasons of public policy, worked out over many years, those rules usually impose strict liability on employers for harm caused by or to employees, and treat these as duties an employer may not delegate to others. Re-visiting Exacerbating the Exasperating seems like a good place to start.

October 18, 2018 in Business, Equal Employment, Theory, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Adopting a Human Rights Perspective in Domestic Violence Law

Margaret Drew, Truth Seeking: The Lenahan Case and the Search for a Human Rights Remedy

It was not until Lenahan v. United States that many U.S. domestic violence advocates incorporated the human rights framework in a conscious and organized way. Part I of this essay addresses the role of determining truth as part of human rights remedies. Truth is essential so that all involved may provide appropriate remedies to those harmed, as well as to open a gateway to whatever level of healing and change is possible under the circumstances. Part II discusses the procedural history of Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales and explores the comparative findings and goals of the U.S. legal system within the human rights framework. The U.S. and IACHR Gonzales-Lenahan cases are used as comparative exemplars. The application of truth seeking principles to the Lenahan case is then discussed. Part III addresses needed change within the U.S. civil law systems if the country is to affectively adopt a human rights perspective in matters of domestic violence and other human rights abuses.

October 17, 2018 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Watching the Bandwagon Effect of New Laws on Sexual Harassment Training

Erin Mulvaney, Watching the Bandwagon Effect for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

The #MeToo movement inspired progressive legislatures this year to revisit mandatory sexual harassment training programs statewide for nearly all workers and supervisors, part of the sweeping effort confronting power imbalances between men and women in the workplace.

 

The most comprehensive sexual harassment policies were passed in California and New York, two states that are often leaders on new initiatives in the employment law space. New York’s state rules went into effect this month, and employers have until October 2019 to implement training programs. California bolstered its existing training requirement.

 

Very few states have mandatory sexual harassment training requirements. Delaware’s new sexual harassment training law, signed in August, takes effect in January 2019. That law imposes training requirements on employers with at least 50 employees in the state, according to a Jackson Lewis P.C. analysis.

 

A handful of states this year, including Maryland and Louisiana, also bolstered or added sexual harassment training requirements for government employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracked the dozens of measures proposed and enacted this year aimed at tackling the issue.

 

Few states and local governments followed suit since California’s first training law was passed more than a decade ago, but employment attorneys say the newly passed measures could push momentum.

 

“Other states and jurisdictions will see the lead that California and New York have taken,” said Jason Habinsky, an employment partner at Haynes and Boone in New York. “There is sometimes a bandwagon effect.”

October 17, 2018 in Equal Employment, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Merchandising of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

ABA J, Supreme Icon: From Shirts to Action Figures to Movies and an Album, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has Become an Unlikely Pop Culture Icon

On the website Etsy, which sells crafts and vintage items, typing “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” into the search bar yields more than 1,000 results.

 

You can buy a birthday card with the associate justice’s image and the phrase “small and mighty” written in pink. There’s also a tank top bearing her stern visage and “I dissent” written underneath. There are posters of her as Rosie the Riveter, peg dolls of her in full judicial regalia and even prayer candles portraying her as “the Patron Saint of the Supreme Court.”

 

If Etsy isn’t your thing, you can find a Ginsburg action figure on Kickstarter, complete with gavel, pointing finger and her “iconic jabot,” a frilly, fancy-looking collar perfect for making “fashion and judicial statements.” The initial funding goal was $15,000. As of September, it had raised well over $600,000. “She is a rock star. She is an inspiration. She is constantly fighting. She is brilliant and fearless,” the introductory video to the Kickstarter page states. “She is an icon.”

 

The items aren’t all kitschy. There are plenty of posters, coffee mugs and shirts featuring inspirational and even strident quotes from her speeches and opinions. One oft-used line came from an interview she gave shortly after Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2009: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Another popular one for product designers is: “Fight for the things you care about.”

 

That latter quote was from a 2015 luncheon at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in Justice Ginsburg’s honor. Oftentimes, these products will leave off the last part of Ginsburg’s sentence, which was “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” That outlook may explain why Ginsburg has become a cottage industry, generating countless products—none of which she has likely endorsed but has often been a good sport about.

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a music album inspired by her life story. There are websites and memes that celebrate her jurisprudence, her fiery dissents and her dedication to civil rights, gender equality and social justice. There’s even a recent documentary and an upcoming Hollywood film chronicling her long and storied career as a litigator fighting on behalf of gender equality.

October 17, 2018 in Judges, Pop Culture, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Women Owned Law Firms Surge Amid Gender Disparity in the Profession

Women Owned Law Firms Surge Amid Gender Disparity in the Profession

Work-life balance is often pegged as the reason women leave traditional law firms. But for the growing number of women establishing their own firms, their departure is often rooted more deeply in gender inequality in the profession than in raising children or having more free time.

 

“If women were feeling valued, were getting properly rewarded for their efforts, were getting their fair share and it wasn’t a constant struggle to get your origination credit, and feel you are part of the team—then you would stay,” said Nicole Galli, who in 2017 co-founded a trade association, Women Owned Law, which has already grown to 200 members.***

 

By founding their own firms, women are crafting new game rules that provide for fair compensation, equal promotions, full inclusion and better career development opportunities.

 

“There are women further along in their careers—partners in firms—who’ve done everything ‘right.’ They leaned in. They figured out the work-life balance, as it is. They made it to a measure of objective success. They have books of business. They have clients. It’s still death by a thousand paper cuts. It’s still a struggle,” said Galli, managing partner in the Law Offices of N.D. Galli in Philadelphia.

 

Data shows a mass exodus of female attorneys who leave traditional firms before they reach the upper echelon. The National Association of Women Lawyers found in a 2017 survey that women make up 46 percent of associates but just 30 percent of non-equity partners. Only 19 percent of equity partners are women, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession reported in January.

October 10, 2018 in Business, Equal Employment, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

MeToo One Year Later: More Awareness, More EEOC Success, New Laws in CAL and NY

A Year After it Began has #MeToo Become a Global Movement

In the year since, the global conversation about sexual harassment — and worse — has shifted, but the lasting impact of the moment remains unclear.

From Stockholm to Seoul, from Toronto to Tokyo, a torrent of accusations has poured forth. Survivors spoke out, and many were taken seriously. Powerful men lost their jobs. A few went to prison. How diverse societies — some liberal, others conservative — saw sexual harassment seemed to be changing.

On Friday, a year after the New York Times and the New Yorker published their stories about Weinstein, two activists who have sought to end sexual violence in conflict zones — Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidi assault survivor Nadia Murad — were awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

But for all the early anticipation that things had changed forever, in many countries the #MeToo movement either fizzled or never took flight.

1 Year Later, How MeToo is Changing America

Joanna Grossman, Beneath the Fray: Federal Courts Continue the Work of Enforcing Sexual Harassment Laws

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace, after the New York Times published a bombshell investigative article about a lifetime of egregious sexual misdeeds. One year later, the #MeToo movement came into sharp contrast with the GOP-controlled Senate, which voted to elevate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct. But while we ponder questions big and small about the problem of sexual misconduct and how to deal with it, courts continue the everyday work of hearing sexual harassment cases. In a recent case, EEOC v. Favorite Farms, Inc., a federal district court in Florida did exactly that, refusing to grant an employer’s motion for summary judgment in a workplace rape case that deserves a full trial on the merits.

Eric Bachman, In Response to #MeToo Movement, EEOC is Filing More Sexual Harassment Lawsuits, and Winning

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced how the #MeToo movement has impacted its enforcement efforts, which has implications across the country and particularly in corporate America.

Not surprisingly, the heightened awareness about sexual harassment-including what constitutes harassment and the harm it inflicts-generated by the #MeToo campaign has resulted in the EEOC filing "a 50% increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over FY 2017."  More broadly, the total number of EEOC Charges of Discrimination alleging sexual harassment increased by about 12% from last year, and the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe discrimination had occurred in nearly 20% more charges in 2018 than in 2017.

Allyson Hobbs, One Year of #MeToo: The Legacy of Black Women's Testimonies, New Yorker

We can create a more inclusive narrative. As the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw recently argued, “black feminist frameworks have been doing the hard work of building the social justice movements that race-only or gender-only frames cannot.” To do better by all women, we must listen and recognize the historical and contemporary circumstances that shape their experiences and have real consequences on their lives. The historian Elsa Barkley Brown has written, “We have still to recognize that being a woman is, in fact, not extractable from the context in which one is a woman—that is, race, class, time, and place.”

Congress Still Can't Pass its Own Sexual Harassment Bill

The House and the Senate passed two different bills earlier this year—but months after those votes, lawmakers are doubtful that they can reconcile the two pieces of legislation before the midterm elections.

“Here on Thursday, there is this very high-profile hearing and questions of sexual harassment, and yet Congress is allowing this bill to deal with sexual harassment in Congress [to languish],” said Meredith McGehee, the executive director at Issue One, a government watchdog group that advocates for stronger ethics laws.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is overseeing the process of reconciling the House and Senate versions, predicted that the effort would not be completed before the midterm elections.

“[The] discussion continues to be active,” he told The Daily Beast. “I think we’ll get this done, but I do not think we’ll get it done before the election.”

See also 2018 Legislation on Sexual Harassment in the Legislature

 California Law Prohibits Nondisclosure Agreements as Part of Sexual Harassment Settlements

NY Enacts Sweeping Sexual Harassment Legislation

Amid #MeToo NY Employers Face Strict New Sexual Harassment Laws

October 10, 2018 in Equal Employment, Legislation, Media, Pop Culture, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Is California's Mandate of Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards Constitutional?

Vikram Amar & Jason Mazzone, Is California's Mandate That Public Companies Include Women on their Boards of Directors Constitutional?

Earlier this week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 826, a landmark measure that requires each publicly held corporation whose principal executive offices are located in California to have, by the end of 2019, at least one woman on its board of directors. By 2021, each such corporation is required to have at least two women board members if the corporation has five directors, and at least three women board members if the corporation has six or more directors.

 

In today’s column, Part One in a series, we begin to spot and analyze some of the cutting-edge constitutional questions SB 826 raises. More specifically, in the space below we address aspects of federal equal protection review, focusing on what it means under federal intermediate scrutiny to for a state to “substantially further” a government objective. In Part Two we ask which government objectives—both in enacting and implementing SB 826—are appropriate for a state to pursue consistent with equal protection law and constitutional principles more generally, and we also discuss a separate potential constitutional problem: the impact that SB 826 has on corporations chartered in other states. Throughout, we shall train our analysis on issues under the federal Constitution, even though we recognize (and in some instances note) that California constitutional limitations may pose additional problems for the measure.

For prior posts on the new California law, see Cal Becomes First State to Require Publicly Held Corporations to Include Women on Boards

October 9, 2018 in Business, Constitutional, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP Women and the Law

2019 Detroit Mercy Law Review Symposium: Women and the Law

Call for Papers and Presentations

Deadline: November 9, 2018

The Law Review at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law will be hosting its 103rd annual symposium: Women and the Law.

Call for Proposals

The Detroit Mercy Law Review is accepting proposals for the 2019 Symposium: Women and the Law. The Detroit Mercy Law Review Symposium will take place on Friday, March 8, 2019 (International Women’s Day) in Detroit, Michigan. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: the history of women in the law, how women have impacted the law, how the law impacts women today, how future legal decisions could affect women’s rights (e.g. if Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) were to be overturned), what challenges women still face in the legal profession, the role of gender in the law, and any other topic regarding women and the law.

Proposals should be approximately 250-500 words, double-spaced, and detail the proposed topic and presentation.

Submission Procedure

The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, November 9, 2018 at 5PM EST. All proposals should be submitted to Samantha Buck, Symposium Director, at bucksl@udmercy.edu. Please indicate whether your proposal is for a presentation only or if you would also like to publish an article with the Detroit Mercy Law Review on your presentation topic. If you are interested in submitting an article, it will be due to the Law Review on Friday, March 15, 2019. Please submit a current CV or resume along with your proposal. We will notify chosen speakers by November 30, 2018. Preference will be given to those willing to submit an article for publication. 

October 9, 2018 in Call for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP Applied Feminism and MeToo

The Center for Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore announces its call for papers its call for papers for the 2019 Feminist Theory Conference.  

2019 Feminist Legal Theory Conference
Call for Papers

APPLIED FEMINISM AND #METOO

The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Eleventh Feminist Legal Theory Conference.  We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on Friday, April 12, 2019.  The theme is the #MeToo movement.

 

The resurgent #MeToo movement and the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have put a spotlight on sexual harassment and sexual assault in our society.  Across America, the #MeToo movement has spurred women to share their stories of sexual harassment, run for office, advocate for change, litigate abuses, and build coalitions.  As a result of this social movement, there are emerging proposals to change the law, workplaces, schools and family dynamics to decrease sexual harassment and assault and ensure better responses to complaints.  In addition, the Kavanaugh hearings have created discussions about credibility, trauma, anger, and employment qualifications.  In sum, we are at a critical moment, a reckoning, of the persistent systemic sexual harassment and assaults of women.  At the same time, certain voices seem less visible in the movement, such as men who are harassed and assaulted, women who are low-income, women of color, women living with disabilities, and those who are imprisoned or subject to police violence.  And proposals for change may be too limited. 

 

We seek submissions of papers that focus on the topic of Applied Feminism and #MeToo.  This conference aims to explore the following questions: What impact has #MeToo had on feminist legal theory, critical race feminist theory, class crit feminist theory, and other critical legal theories? How has #MeToo changed law and social policy? What more needs to be done, and how? How can #MeToo be expanded to address all victims and survivors of sexual harassment and assault? How can we respond to intersecting forms of oppression like race, class, and disability? How can law and theory address the barriers to persons making claims of sexual harassment and assault? How can law and theory address distrust and anger towards sexual harassment and assault claims? What should be individual and systemic responses to sexual harassment and assault claims? What more can be done to eradicate sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, institutional, and other settings? 

 

We welcome proposals that consider these questions and any other related questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Amy Klobuchar, NOW President Terry O’Neill, EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner, and Obama administration official Jocelyn Frye.

 

To submit a paper proposal, by Friday, November 2, 2018, please complete this form and include your 500 word abstract: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeTVf_gKjDmLaMlx_OX_AvKY9iUPCNy-CULsiThkpb_ie89ZQ/viewform?usp=sf_link.  We will notify presenters of selected papers by early December. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review. Thus, the form requests that you indicate if you interested in publishing in the University of Baltimore Law Review's symposium issue. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 22, 2019. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals. 

 

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Margaret Johnson at majohnson@ubalt.edu. For additional information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.

October 9, 2018 in Call for Papers, Theory, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawsuits Against Harvard and NYU Law Reviews Allege Illegal Racial and Gender Preferences for Editors and Articles Harm White Men

Suits Against Harvard and NYU Law Reviews Claim Racial Gender Preferences

A Texas-based group called Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences (FASORP) sued the Harvard Law Review on Oct. 6 and the New York University Law Review on Sunday, claiming that their racial and gender preference policies violate federal anti-discrimination laws. The lawsuits come at a time when law reviews—the traditional bastion of white males—are celebrating the increased diversity of their membership ranks. Harvard Law School, for example, had its first black women editor-in-chief in 2017. The Columbia Law Review has its first black male editor-in-chief ever this year.***

 

The new suits allege that policies at both law reviews violate the rights of students by giving women and minorities an unlawful advantage in getting onto those sought-after organizations. Moreover, the suits allege policies that give a preference to articles written by women and minority scholars violate the rights of others hoping to place articles there.

 

“Harvard Law School and Harvard University are violating Title VI and Title IX by allowing the Harvard Law Review to use race and sex preferences when selecting its members, editors, and articles—in direct contravention of the Law School’s supposed non-discrimination policy,” read the Harvard Law Review suit.

October 9, 2018 in Education, Gender, Law schools, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

New Book -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life

New biography of Justice Ginsburg, out October 16, Jane Sharron de Hart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life 

The first full life—private, public, legal, philosophical—of the 107th Supreme Court Justice, one of the most profound and profoundly transformative legal minds of our time; a book fifteen years in work, written with the cooperation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself and based on many interviews with the justice, her husband, her children, her friends, and her associates.

In this large, comprehensive, revelatory biography, Jane De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, her meticulous jurisprudence: her desire to make We the People more united and our union more perfect. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs—her Jewish background. Tikkun olam, the Hebrew injunction to “repair the world,” with its profound meaning for a young girl who grew up during the Holocaust and World War II. We see the influence of her mother, Celia Amster Bader, whose intellect inspired her daughter’s feminism, insisting that Ruth become independent, as she witnessed her mother coping with terminal cervical cancer (Celia died the day before Ruth, at seventeen, graduated from high school).
 

From Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, to Cornell University, Harvard and Columbia Law Schools (first in her class), to being a law professor at Rutgers University (one of the few women in the field and fighting pay discrimination), hiding her second pregnancy so as not to risk losing her job; founding the Women's Rights Law Reporter, writing the brief for the first case that persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down a sex-discriminatory state law, then at Columbia (the law school’s first tenured female professor); becoming the director of the women’s rights project of the ACLU, persuading the Supreme Court in a series of decisions to ban laws that denied women full citizenship status with men. 

 Her years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, deciding cases the way she played golf, as she, left-handed, played with right-handed clubs—aiming left, swinging right, hitting down the middle. Her years on the Supreme Court . . . 

 A pioneering life and legal career whose profound mark on American jurisprudence, on American society, on our American character and spirit, will reverberate deep into the twenty-first century and beyond.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by [de Hart, Jane Sherron]

October 3, 2018 in Books, Judges, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court Nomination and Opposition

Jill Lepore, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Unlikely Path to the Supreme Court, New Yorker

God bless Ruth Bader Ginsburg, goats, bobbleheads, and all. But trivialization—R.B.G.’s workout tips! her favorite lace collars!—is not tribute. Female heroes are in short supply not because women aren’t brave but because female bravery is demeaned, no kind more than intellectual courage. Isn’t she cute? Ginsburg was and remains a scholar, an advocate, and a judge of formidable sophistication, complexity, and, not least, contradiction and limitation. It is no kindness to flatten her into a paper doll and sell her as partisan merch.

 

Doing so also obscures a certain irony. Ginsburg often waxes nostalgic about her confirmation hearings, as she did this September, when, regretting the partisan furor over Brett Kavanaugh—even before Christine Blasey Ford came forward—she said, “The way it was was right; the way it is is wrong.” The second of those statements is undeniably and painfully true, but the first flattens the past. What Biden was getting at, in 1993, was what the President himself had said, dismissing the idea of nominating Ginsburg when it was first suggested to him. “The women,” Clinton said, “are against her.” ***

 

And so when Clinton, eager to please, entertained names proposed by women’s groups, he learned that some of them refused to support Ginsburg, because they were worried that she might be willing to overturn Roe (which is not what she had written, but one gathers that the Madison Lecture was more often invoked than read). At one point, Clinton asked Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to suggest a woman. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Moynihan answered. “The women are against her” was the President’s reply. Moynihan called Martin Ginsburg and said, “You best take care of it.

October 3, 2018 in Judges, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Trump Immigration Policies have Particularly Impacted Women and Domestic Violence Victims

Trump's Immigration Policies Have Especially Affected Women and Domestic Violence Victims

A policy takes effect on Monday that could increase the risk of deportation for undocumented immigrant victims or witnesses of crimes. The agency that considers visa applications will begin to refer immigrants for deportation proceedings in far more cases, including when a person fails to qualify for a visa. The policy would also constrain officers' discretion.
 
 The new US Citizenship and Immigration Services policy specifically applies to visas designed to protect victims of violent crime and trafficking, including some created under the Violence Against Women Act. Those visas will give legal status to victims who report or testify about crimes.
  
The result: Victims who apply for the special visas but fall short, including for reasons like incomplete paperwork or missing a deadline, could end up in deportation proceedings. Previously, there was no guidance to refer all visa applicants who fall short to immigration court for possible deportation. Under the new policy, it'll be the presumption. Advocates for immigrants worry the risk will be too great for immigrants on the fence about reporting their crimes.
  
Other policies that especially impact women and victims include:

October 1, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

New California Law Prohibits Nondisclosure Agreements as Part of Sexual Harassment Settlements

SF Chronicle, California Bans Secrecy Requirement Requirement in Workplace Sex-Harassment Suits

California employers can no longer require workers to sign nondisclosure agreements as part of sexual harassment, discrimination or assault cases under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday.

 

SB820 by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino (San Bernardino County), was one of several bills to come out of the Legislature in response to the #MeToo movement. Leyva said banning mandatory secret settlements will ensure victims are not forced to keep quiet while serial offenders remain employed.

 

The bill applies to both private and public employers, including the Legislature, which previously required its own workers to sign nondisclosure agreements as part of settlements. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.

October 1, 2018 in Business, Equal Employment, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

CAL Becomes First State to Require Gender Quotas for Publicly Held Corporate Boards

NYT, California's Publicly Held Corporations will Have to Include Women on Their Boards

California became the first state to require its publicly held corporations to include women on their boards after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Sunday.

 

The bill, which applies to companies “whose principal executive offices” are in California, requires them to have at least one woman on their boards by the end of 2019.

 

In 2021, the companies must have a minimum of two or three women, depending on the size of their boards.

 

Hundreds of companies will be affected by the law, according to The Los Angeles Times, and those that fail to comply can be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for a second.

 

In signing the legislation, Mr. Brown acknowledged that critics have raised “serious legal concerns” about it, which he conceded “may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.” ***

 

Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democratic state senator who represents Santa Barbara and helped write the legislation, applauded its signing on Twitter.

 

She has said that a quarter of California’s publicly traded companies do not have a woman on their boards, despite studies showing that companies that do are more profitable and productive. (Some research, however, has suggested that the findings are less conclusive.) For instance, Stamps.com — which has its headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., but is incorporated in Delaware — has an all-male, five-member board, and told The Los Angeles Times on Sunday that it “is reviewing the law.”

For thoughts on the potential legal problems with the quota law, see: 

Kimberly Krawic, Board Diversity in the News Again

I have detailed at some length, both herein a series of papers (co-authored with Lissa Broome and John Conley), in a piece for the NY Times, and in a recent public radio debate, why these studies that simply confirm the well-known correlation between board gender diversity and firm performance cannot be taken as evidence that gender diversity causes superior performance. This is more than just a recitation of the old “correlation doesn’t equal causation” argument. In this case there are strong empirical and theoretical reasons to believe that such a conclusion is premature.

Stephen Bainbridge, Can California Require Delaware Corporations to Comply with California's New Board of Director Gender Diversity Mandate

Opponents of the legislation are mainly focusing on equal protection arguments, claiming that neither the U.S. nor the California constitutions prohibit the sort of quotas contemplated by the bill. I think there’s another issue raised by the statute, however.

Virtually all U.S. corporations are formed (“incorporated”) under the laws of a single state by filing articles of incorporation with the appropriate state official.[1]The state in which the articles of incorporation are filed is known as the “state of incorporation.” Selecting a state of incorporation has important consequences, because of the so-called “internal affairs doctrine”—a conflicts of law rule holding that corporate governance matters are controlled by the law of the state of incorporation. 

For thinking about gender quotas more broadly, including corporate board quotas in Europe and the remedial need for quotas, see my article Reconsidering the Remedy of Gender Quotas, Harvard J. Law &Gender (online)

October 1, 2018 in Business, Gender, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

UK Top Judge Says Women Judges Make Better Decisions

UK's Top Judge Justice Brenda Hale: Female Judges Make Better Decisions

One of the world's top judges says female judges improve the quality of judicial decisions.

 

And she admits, in an exclusive New Zealand interview with the Herald, it may be viewed as a "controversial" comment.

 

I was one of only six [female] law school students," the 73-year-old said.

 

"At that stage the first woman High Court judge in England had only just been appointed."

 

However, she said courts still don't have enough women serving on the bench.

 

"This is the most controversial," she went on to say. "Do women make different decisions from men? To which the answer is, having women on the court improves the quality of decision making," she said.

 

"It improves the quality of debate, it makes certain things much more difficult to say and do, counters sub-conscious biases, we all have them ... and just from time to time, having a woman's voice on a decision makes a difference."

 

She explained a woman's life experience allowed for better decision-making.

September 27, 2018 in Courts, Judges, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

EEOC Files Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit against Walmart

US Agency Accuses Walmart of Pregnancy Discrimination in Lawsuit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday filed a lawsuit accusing Walmart Inc of forcing pregnant workers at a Wisconsin warehouse to go on unpaid leave and denying their requests to take on easier duties.

 

The EEOC, which enforces federal laws banning discrimination in the workplace, said Walmart’s distribution center in Menomonie, Wisconsin, has discriminated against pregnant employees since 2014. Federal law requires employers to accommodate workers’ pregnancies in the same way as physical disabilities.

 

Friday’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Wisconsin, stems from a complaint filed by Alyssa Gilliam, an employee at the Walmart warehouse in Menomonie.

 

The EEOC in the lawsuit said Gilliam became pregnant in 2015, and Walmart denied her requests for restrictions on heavy lifting, additional breaks, and a chair to use while working.

 

The commission said Walmart refused similar requests by other pregnant workers at the warehouse, but granted them for workers with disabilities or injuries.

 

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits workplace discrimination against pregnant women. In a 2015 decision involving United Parcel Service Inc, the U.S. Supreme Court said the law requires employers to provide the same accommodations to pregnant women as it does disabled workers.

 

September 27, 2018 in Books, Business, Equal Employment, Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Historical Picture of Eleven Women Who Could Have (or Would Be) on the Supreme Court

Meg Penrose, The Way-Pavers: Eleven Supreme Court-worthy Women, Harvard J. Law & Gender (online) (July 2018)

Four women have served as associate justices on the United States Supreme Court. Since the Court’s inception in 1789, more than 160 individuals have been nominated to serve as Supreme Court justices. Five nominees, or roughly 3 percent, have been women. To help put this gender dearth in perspective, more men named “Samuel” have served as Supreme Court justices than women. Thirteen U.S. presidents have each nominated more people to the Supreme Court than the total number of women that have served on the Court. Finally, there are currently as many Catholics serving on the Supreme Court as the number of women confirmed in the Court’s entire history.

 

Women, once thought of as “one-at-a-time-curiosities” on the bench, now constitute nearly one-third of all state and federal judges. They occupy the highest posts on state supreme courts and can be found, in similar numbers, at the trial and appellate levels. If we limit our consideration to the current Supreme Court, women held one-third of the seats on our Supreme Court at the time of Justice Kennedy’s 2018 retirement. Yet, this number is deceptive since women on the highest court is a modern phenomenon.

 

Qualified women have been available for selection for many years—long before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman on the Supreme Court, or FWOTSC, as she refers to herself. It was not until a 1980 campaign promise by then-Governor Ronald Reagan to appoint the first female justice to the Supreme Court that a woman broke one of our government’s last gender barriers. Presidents prior to that time were complicit in allowing male members of the Court, among other influences, to stave off appointments of well-qualified women. So, women waited. But now, women account for four of the last thirteen Supreme Court appointments and five of the past seventeen nominees. Clearly, the numbers are increasing.

 

This Essay presents the second scholarly ranking of female jurists deserving of a seat on the highest court in the land. The list celebrates eleven judicial way pavers: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Florence Allen, Constance Baker Motley, Shirley Huftstedler, Patricia Wald, Cornelia Kennedy, Harriet Miers and, Belva Lockwood. Each of these women is, or was, Supreme Court-worthy. Yet only four of them actually occupy or have occupied a place on the Court.

September 27, 2018 in Legal History, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)