Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Comparing American and French Sexual Harassment Law

Tristin Green, American is from Venus, France is from Mars: Pinupus, Policing, & Gender Equality, Employee Rgts & Employment Policy J (forthcoming)

    Abstract:      

 

Professor Tristin Green shows in this Essay that current portrayals of differences between American and French harassment law are incomplete. They overlook important history of harassment law in the United States and miss the extent to which American law has been and continues to be shaped by concerns very similar to those articulated by the French in devising their harassment law. To reveal the common thread of concern, Professor Green uncovers the seeds of the limits placed on employer liability for harassment by the United States Supreme Court in the 1980s and 1990s, and digs beneath the doctrinal cover of “because of sex” in Title VII cases today. She shows judges in the United States relying on the “because of sex” requirement to prevent Title VII from disrupting exclusionary and subordinating work cultures for the very same reasons that French law was originally narrowly conceived. American judges in these cases see harassment as a problem of interpersonal intrusion (if not violence) first and of workplace discrimination second. Most fundamentally, they see employers as mere police officers of individuals who engage in harassment, and they resist a construction of the law that would require employers to alter male-dominated work cultures.

Seeing this similar thread of concern and how it restricts the reach of harassment law in the United States is important to understanding the equality project in both countries. France and the United States both face significant hurdles to developing a harassment law that will alter workplace cultures in ways that further integration and equality. If equality advocates cannot disrupt the pervasive sense that workplace harassment is a matter solely of interpersonal behavior to be policed, whether by employers or by the state, then the harassment laws of neither country are likely to be effective.

 

February 7, 2017 in Equal Employment, International, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Durability of Gender Inequality in Private Law Practice

Joyce Sterling & Nancy Reichman, Overlooked and Undervalued: Women in Private Law Practice, 12 Annual Rev. Law & Soc. Science 373 (2016)

Abstract

This article examines the durability of gender inequality in private law practice since Kay & Gorman published their comprehensive review in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science in 2008. We begin with some of the changes in legal practice that intensified during the Great Recession and help to contextualize women's lack of progress. We turn next to a contemporary profile of women in private practice that demonstrates empirically where women stand. We look at some of the organizational mechanisms that seem to perpetuate inequality. The challenges of integrating work and family dominated the discussion of women's lack of progress in earlier reviews of women in the legal profession and continue to matter greatly. We assume the persistence of these challenges and instead focus on ways that the mechanisms or strategies for determining compensation systematically overlook and undervalue women's contributions. We consider the different social science frameworks that explain women as overlooked and undervalued for their contributions. We conclude with proposed suggestions for changes aimed at remedying the problems discussed here.

 

January 25, 2017 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

SCOTUS Denies Review in EEOC Sexual Harassment Class Action v Private Prison

The Supreme Court today denied cert in The Geo Group v. EEOC allowing the Ninth Circuit's decision to stand allowing the class action to go forward.

According to EEOC's suit, Alice Hancock and a class of 20 female employees were sexually harassed at the Arizona State Prison-Florence West Facility and the Central Arizona Correctional Facility in Florence, Ariz.; both entities were managed by GEO under contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections. The physical sexual harassment allegedly included an incident where a male GEO manager grabbed and pinched the breasts and crotch of a female correctional officer. Also, EEOC claimed that at least one female employee was forced onto a desk, where a male GEO employee shoved apart her legs and kissed her. EEOC charged that the sexual harassment also included sexual comments and gestures, including a male officer calling a female officer "bitch" and "f---ing bitch" on a daily basis and making other lewd remarks and suggestions.

 

The complaint further charged that the female employees were subjected to retaliation when they reported or otherwise sought help from GEO management.

 

EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, CIV2:10-cv-02088 MHM, in September 2010, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. A similar suit was filed by the Arizona attorney general's office (ACRD), the agency that conducted the administrative investigation in this case, and the Ninth Circuit also reinstated that suit.

 

The trial court dismissed the claims of the women who were not identified until after EEOC filed suit. The court also dismissed the claims of two women which the court said were untimely, and another claim of one woman whose harassment was not actionable, according to the court. EEOC and ACRD appealed.

January 9, 2017 in Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Podcasts on Women in the Law from Law School Transparency

The new podcasts on Women in the Law have been released.

From their summary:

Over six weeks, this podcast mini-series will advance the conversation on the many challenges, both professional and personal, that women continue to face as members of the legal profession. Through first-person narratives, thoughtful conversations, and synthesis of economic and social science research, this show will add to the myriad of work fighting against decades of systemic problems.

 

We hope to empower both women and men to recognize and constructively address a wide range of workplace issues that negatively impact women, the organizations and firms they work for, the clients they represent, and the society we all live in.

Topics include:

Hey Sweetie! Sexism in the Legal Workplace

In the Media: How Women Lawyers are Portrayed on TV and in the News

Leaky Pipeline 1: Examining the Premise of a Leaky Pipeline

Leaky Pipeline 2: From Hiring to Retention to Leadership

Multiple Identities: Intersectional Challenges in the Legal Profession

Solutions: Rules, Sanctions, and Awareness

  The New York Times had a recent article on the leaky pipeline research highlighted in the podcasts: More Law Degrees for Women, but Fewer Good Jobs  

 

December 8, 2016 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gendering Disability Law

Michelle Travis (San Francisco), Gendering Disability to Enable Disability Rights Law, Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming)

Abstract:     

This Article expands the social model of disability by analyzing the interaction between disability and gender. The modern disability rights movement is built upon the social model, which understands disability not as an inherent personal deficiency but as the product of the environment with which an impairment interacts. The social model is reflected in the accommodation mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), which holds employers responsible for the limiting aspects of their workplace design. This Article shows that the limitations imposed upon impairments result not only from physical aspects of a workplace but also from other identity-based stereotypes, biases, and oppressions, which affect how disability is both experienced and perceived.

This Article advances the social model's aspirations by specifically challenging the existing gender-neutral view of the causes and consequences of disability. This analysis reveals how ignoring gender has enabled masculine norms to become embedded into the ADA's substantive and procedural approaches to defining and remedying disability discrimination in the workplace. This inattention to gender has not only imposed serious social and economic consequences on women with disabilities, but it has also rendered legally invisible many non-prototypic members of the disabled community. This analysis illustrates how attending to other social identities may advance the social model, deepen our understanding of disability discrimination, and empower disability rights law to serve a broader group of individuals within the disabled community.

 

March 10, 2016 in Gender, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

UAE imprisoning rape victims under extramarital sex laws – investigation

From the Guardian UK: 

Hundreds of women, some of them pregnant or domestic servants who are victims of rape, are being imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates every year under laws that outlaw consensual sex outside marriage, according to a BBC Arabic investigation.

Secret footage obtained by BBC Arabic show pregnant women shackled in chains walking into a courtrooms where laws prohibiting “Zina” – or sex outside marriage – could mean sentences of months to years in prison and flogging.

“Because the UAE authorities have not clarified what they mean by indecency, the judges can use their culture and customs and Sharia ultimately to broaden out that definition and convict people for illicit sexual relations or even acts of public affection,” said Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch in London.

While both men and women could in theory be imprisoned for having sex outside marriage, the investigation – which will air at the opening of BBC Arabic festival on 31 October – found that in reality pregnancy is often used as proof of the “crime”, with domestic female migrant workers – numbering about 150,000 in the UAE – left most vulnerable.

October 28, 2015 in Courts, Human trafficking, International, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

No ‘Appreciable Progress’ for Women in Partnership Ranks

From Bloomberg News: 

It's back to the future — and not in a good way for women seeking equity partnership in the nation’s 200 largest law firms.

Women have not made “appreciable progress” since 2006 in either attaining equity partnership or increasing their pay to be on par with their male colleagues once they grasp the brass ring, according to a study by the National Association of Women Lawyers released on Tuesday.

The results: Women represent 18 percent of equity partners, an increase of two percent since 2006, according to NAWL’s findings. Even after they’ve made it into the equity ranks, they make about 80 percent of what their male colleagues bring home. In 2006, women had made 84 percent.

October 28, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 9, 2015

"California now has one of the toughest equal pay laws in the country"

From the LA Times: 

California took a major step Tuesday toward closing the lingering wage gap between men and women, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed one of the toughest pay equity laws in the nation.

Women in California who work full time are paid substantially less — a median 84 cents for every dollar — than men, according to a U.S Census Bureau report this year.

“The inequities that have plagued our state and have burdened women forever are slowly being resolved with this kind of bill,” Brown said at a ceremony at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in the Bay Area city of Richmond.

October 9, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Gender Diversity Makes Good Business Sense

From CNBC: 

Firstly, to hire women at junior levels and invest in them only to lose them before they can take on the senior roles is a poor outcome business-wise, returns-wise and image-wise.

Secondly, women are increasingly becoming the decision-making consumer. Not having a proper representation of women at senior levels would mean firms are losing out on an opportunity to have leaders who have a better understanding of the needs and psyche of their target consumers. That is a bad business decision.

Thirdly, women will increasingly be the decision-maker and enterprise-buyer on the corporate side as well. Not having top leaders who can easily relate to the situation of senior female executives across the table can have adverse consequences.

October 5, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Gender Bias at Work Turns Up in Feedback"

From the WSJ blog: 

If companies are looking for gender bias in their workplace, here’s one place they may want to start: feedback.

Research suggests that men and women are assessed very differently at work. Specifically, managers are significantly more likely to critique female employees for coming on too strong, and their accomplishments are more likely than men’s to be seen as the result of team, rather than individual efforts, finds new research from Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Those trends appear to hold up whether the boss making the assessments is male or female.

September 30, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Law Firms Are Learning: Work-Life Balance Isn't Just for Moms"

From the Atlantic:

For decades, work-life balance at law firms has been a women’s issue—something for working moms to sort out. But there are a growing number of new firms built on flexible schedules that are now attracting men, and slowly shifting the definition of a successful legal career. Though the partner office is still the prototypical legal-career status symbol, the prerequisites of long hours and 24-7 availability are inconsistent with the emphasis many men put on time away from the office.

And: 

“Young men today have different values, different aspirations than their fathers,” says Stewart Friedman, a Wharton Practice professor of management and director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. “They want to be available both psychologically and physically for children.” At some of the most competitive white-collar workplaces, such as Netflix and Microsoft, these shifts have led to expanded parental-leave policies.

September 25, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Rush for gender equality with top judges 'could have appalling consequences for justice'"

A view from Britain from the Evening Standard (UK): 

One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice.   

Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court judge, said he believed that the judiciary was a “terrific public asset” which could be “destroyed very easily” if the selection of candidates was skewed in favour of women.

He added that to avoid inflicting damage, campaigners for equality would have to be “patient” and suggested that it would need up to 50 years before the number of women on the Bench matched the total of men.

September 23, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Legal Profession’s Gender Imbalance in a Chart"

From Bloomberg Law Business: 

The American Bar Foundation has released new data about gender balance in the profession, or more accurately, the lack thereof.

Clearly, more women are entering the law as shown in the chart below.

Gabe Friedman

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Lawyer Population Survey, American Bar Association.

But even though the number of women entering the law has been steadily increasing in recent years, the percentage of women equity partners at the top 200 law firms has been flat for close to a decade, as the chart below shows:

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Association of Women Lawyers, ABA's National Lawyer Population Survey

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Association of Women Lawyers, ABA’s National Lawyer Population Survey

September 23, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Gov. Brown expected to sign expanded fair pay legislation"

From the OC Register: 

SAN FRANCISCO – Female employees in California are poised to get new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps and receive protection from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn.

A bill recently passed by the Legislature and that Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated he will sign won’t suddenly put all women’s salaries on par with men’s or prod employers to freely disclose what every employee makes, which could make it easier for workers to mount pay discrimination claims.

But the legislation expands what supporters call an outdated state equal pay law and goes further than federal law, placing the burden on the employer to prove a man’s higher pay is based on factors other than gender and allowing workers to sue if they are paid less than someone with a different job title who does “substantially similar” work.

September 21, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Gender Bias Suit Will Soon Shine a Harsh Light on Microsoft"

From Wired

MICROSOFT FACES A class action lawsuit from former employee and noted computer security researcher Katie Moussouris. The suit claims that during Moussouris’s seven years at Microsoft, she and other women were unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their gender, passed over for raises and promotions, and ranked below their male counterparts during bi-annual performance reviews.

Moussouris was instrumental in prompting Microsoft to launch its first bug bounty program in 2013, something the company resisted for years. The program pays researchers who find security vulnerabilities in its software. After resigning from Microsoft in May, Moussouris took a job as chief policy officer at HackerOne, which helps companies manage bug bounty programs and communicate with security researchers.

September 18, 2015 in Technology, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Embedded image permalink

From the Guardian UK: 

The barrister at the centre of a sexism furore over a complimentary LinkedIn message from a solicitor 30 years her senior has said she is facing a professional backlash over her decision to speak out.

Writing for the Independent, the human rights lawyer Charlotte Proudman said she did not regret her decision to make public a message from Alexander Carter-Silk that commented on her “stunning” photograph, because it had led to an outpouring of similar experiences from other women.

Proudman said she had named Carter-Silk because she believed the public interest in exposing the “eroticisation of women’s physical appearance” by an influential and senior lawyer was greater than his right to privacy.

September 15, 2015 in Technology, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Big Law’s Race and Gender Problem"

Videoed interviews with Big Law partners are available from Bloomberg News.  An excerpt: 

“The fact of the matter is, that in the legal profession, racial and gender balance is just behind,” said Jami McKeon, Chair of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. McKeon and Michele Coleman Mayes, the New York Public Library’s General Counsel, spoke to us at the Big Law Business Summit in July about racial and gender imbalance in big law.

September 9, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Uneven Wages Cast Shadow Over Labor Day"

150904_wages2

From US News & World Report: 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against prospective workers based on gender, race or religious preference. But that doesn't mean pay gaps don't exist. An income and poverty report published last year by the U.S. Census Bureau found significant disparities in median household incomes based on race; Asian households brought in $67,065 at the end of 2013, while African-American homes posted $34,598 in annual median income.

Another report from the Economic Policy Institute, drawing in part on Census Bureau data, found that median household incomes for Caucasian male full-time employees hovered around $72,530, significantly higher than African-Americans ($51,610) and Hispanics ($43,240). Female employees' earnings were significantly weaker across the board.

And: 

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates women spent more than twice as much time caring for and helping children in the household as men did in 2014.

“Women who have taken some time out of the workforce to do care-giving maybe are not able to come back at the same level. They’ve missed a couple steps on the career ladder,” Robbins says. “Women’s disproportionate representation in the lower paid jobs, and, conversely, their lack of representation in some of the best-paid jobs, really does feed into the wage gap.”

Full-time work more often than not offers greater annual earnings than a part-time job, but a greater percentage of women than men isn't enjoying a standard 40-hour work week. The Labor Department estimates 74 percent of working women were employed full-time in 2013, while 24 percent worked part time. That's compared to 86.9 percent of employed men who work full-time and only 13.1 percent who work part-time.

September 7, 2015 in Race, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"California equal pay bill may be toughest in nation"

The LA Times story: 

 California's new Fair Pay Act, which awaits Gov. Jerry Brown's signature, may be the nation's most aggressive attempt yet to close the salary gap between men and women.

Supporters said the legislation, passed unanimously by the California Senate on Monday, closes loopholes that prevented enforcement of existing anti-discrimination law.

The bill ensures that male and female employees who perform "substantially similar" work receive equal pay, even if their job titles aren't the same or if they work in different offices for the same employer.

September 2, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lawsuit by the National Coalition for Men

From CNN/ Money: 

Are businesses that cater to women inherently anti-male?  

Entrepreneur Stephanie Burns would say no. Burns runs Chic CEO, a startup that hosts networking events and provides online resources for female entrepreneurs.

But three men's rights activists didn't see her services as benevolent. They sued her for being denied entry to an event in San Diego.

The lawsuit cites a California law called the Unruh Civil Rights Act,enacted in 1959, which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on factors such as sex, race, religion and disabilities.

Burns told CNNMoney that men are allowed to attend her events, but that particular one was at capacity. But Chic CEO's promotional materials -- which all catered to women -- were fuel for the lawsuit. The event was described as a "fun, relaxed environment to meet up with entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, CEOs, directors, savvy business women."

August 26, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)