Thursday, December 1, 2022

Study Shows Women Lawyers Rarely Litigate Patent Cases

Paul Gugliuzza & Rachel Rebouche, Gender Inequality in Patent Litigation, 100 N.C. L. Rev. 1683 (2022)

This Article presents an empirical study of gender diversity—or, more accurately, the lack thereof—among the lawyers who handle patent cases in the federal courts, focusing on appellate litigation at the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court. Drawing on two original datasets, the Article finds that, over the past decade, 87.4% of oral arguments in patent appeals at the Federal Circuit have been presented by men. The numbers are similar at the Supreme Court: over the past thirty years, more than 90% of arguments in patent cases have been delivered by male attorneys.

The typical explanation for these sorts of gender gaps is that men are disproportionality represented in the science and technology fields that underlie patent practice. But a closer look at the numbers shows that gender parity exists in specific areas of patent litigation. Until a recent retirement, half of the Federal Circuit’s twelve active judges were women, and the women on the court tend to have more pre-appointment experience in patent law than their male counterparts. In addition, the data collected for this study demonstrate that, when the government becomes involved in patent litigation (usually because a case involves the Patent and Trademark Office), women present oral argument at the Federal Circuit 48.5% of the time—more than five times as frequently as the rate for private-sector litigants.

The story this Article tells—of women being largely absent from high-level patent litigation—is actually a story about gender inequality among the lawyers hired by large corporations, particularly the Federal Circuit’s most frequent litigants, including Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung, all of which have been represented by women in less than 15% of their arguments over the past decade.

Figuring out why women rarely litigate patent appeals for private-sector clients is challenging, but the disparity between law firms and the government parallels inequalities in law practice more generally. To that end, this Article suggests both small steps that would increase gender balance among the lawyers arguing patent cases as well as broader structural reforms that would improve diversity across the bar.

December 1, 2022 in Business, Courts, Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Congress Passes Bill to Ban NDAs in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases

Congress Passes Bill to Ban NDAs in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases

On Wednesday, Congress passed bipartisan legislation, the Speak Out Act, which bans the use of nondisclosure agreements in cases of workplace sexual assault and harassment, by a vote of 315 to 109. The bill passed in the Senate in September and is now headed to the Oval Office to be signed into law.***

The Speak Out Act prohibits the use of NDAs between employers and current, former and prospective employees in cases of sexual assault and harassment. It also invalidates existing NDAs in cases that have not yet been filed. The legislation comes on the heels of the passage of a bill that banned mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases. 

“This is a one-two punch,” Frankel said. “When you think about how many people are subjected to these agreements and how rampant sexual assault and abuse is in this country, these are two incredibly significant new laws that are going to change the culture and force corporations to protect their workers instead of trying to hide the dirty little secrets.***

Imre Szalai, a social justice professor at Loyola University New Orleans, told The 19th this summer when the bill was introduced that arbitration agreements and NDAs were developed in the United States for commercial purposes to handle business-to-business disputes in a more speedy and cost-effective manner. The federal arbitration law was first enacted in 1925, but sometime between the 1970s and 1990s, Szalai said there was a “snowball effect” and these agreements began appearing more broadly in consumer and employment relationships. And now, the U.S. relies on its corporate sector to resolve internal disputes more than any other country in the world. 

November 23, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congress Passes Bill to Ban NDAs in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases

Congress Passes Bill to Ban NDAs in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases

On Wednesday, Congress passed bipartisan legislation, the Speak Out Act, which bans the use of nondisclosure agreements in cases of workplace sexual assault and harassment, by a vote of 315 to 109. The bill passed in the Senate in September and is now headed to the Oval Office to be signed into law.***

The Speak Out Act prohibits the use of NDAs between employers and current, former and prospective employees in cases of sexual assault and harassment. It also invalidates existing NDAs in cases that have not yet been filed. The legislation comes on the heels of the passage of a bill that banned mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases. 

“This is a one-two punch,” Frankel said. “When you think about how many people are subjected to these agreements and how rampant sexual assault and abuse is in this country, these are two incredibly significant new laws that are going to change the culture and force corporations to protect their workers instead of trying to hide the dirty little secrets.***

Imre Szalai, a social justice professor at Loyola University New Orleans, told The 19th this summer when the bill was introduced that arbitration agreements and NDAs were developed in the United States for commercial purposes to handle business-to-business disputes in a more speedy and cost-effective manner. The federal arbitration law was first enacted in 1925, but sometime between the 1970s and 1990s, Szalai said there was a “snowball effect” and these agreements began appearing more broadly in consumer and employment relationships. And now, the U.S. relies on its corporate sector to resolve internal disputes more than any other country in the world. 

November 23, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congress Passes Bill to Ban NDAs in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases

Congress Passes Bill to Ban NDAs in Workplace Sexual Harassment Cases

On Wednesday, Congress passed bipartisan legislation, the Speak Out Act, which bans the use of nondisclosure agreements in cases of workplace sexual assault and harassment, by a vote of 315 to 109. The bill passed in the Senate in September and is now headed to the Oval Office to be signed into law.***

The Speak Out Act prohibits the use of NDAs between employers and current, former and prospective employees in cases of sexual assault and harassment. It also invalidates existing NDAs in cases that have not yet been filed. The legislation comes on the heels of the passage of a bill that banned mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases. 

“This is a one-two punch,” Frankel said. “When you think about how many people are subjected to these agreements and how rampant sexual assault and abuse is in this country, these are two incredibly significant new laws that are going to change the culture and force corporations to protect their workers instead of trying to hide the dirty little secrets.***

Imre Szalai, a social justice professor at Loyola University New Orleans, told The 19th this summer when the bill was introduced that arbitration agreements and NDAs were developed in the United States for commercial purposes to handle business-to-business disputes in a more speedy and cost-effective manner. The federal arbitration law was first enacted in 1925, but sometime between the 1970s and 1990s, Szalai said there was a “snowball effect” and these agreements began appearing more broadly in consumer and employment relationships. And now, the U.S. relies on its corporate sector to resolve internal disputes more than any other country in the world. 

November 23, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Tracing the Racial and Gendered Origins of Exemptions to Labor Standards

Daiquiri Steele, Enduring Exclusion, 120 Michigan L. Rev. (2022)

Economic justice has long been a part of the civil rights agenda, and minimum labor standards statutes play a crucial role in eradicating the exploitation and subordination of historically marginalized workers. While statutes establishing labor standards are characterized as “universal,” their effect has been anything but universal. Racial and ethnic minorities, women, and those at the intersection experience disproportionate violations of labor standards laws concerning minimum wage, overtime, and occupational safety and health.

Through legislative maneuvering dating back to the New Deal era, Congress carved out many female workers and workers of color from core protections of minimum labor standards legislation. Due to the vigorous advocacy of civil rights groups, amendments to these statutes expanded coverage, making these statutes more inclusive of marginalized workers. Nevertheless, the exclusionary legacy of these New Deal era-laws lingers today. Black, Latinx, and female workers are more likely to be retaliated against for asserting rights or reporting employer misconduct pursuant to these statutes.

Tracing the racial and gendered origins of exemptions to labor standards statutes from the early twentieth century to the present, this Article argues that, despite expanded coverage, female workers and workers of color remain largely excluded from “universal” workplace protections. Although anti-worker forces previously sought to thwart creation of legal rights for marginalized workers, contemporary anti-worker campaigns seek to gut marginalized workers’ protections through actual and threatened retaliation. Examination of the traditional rationales for employer retaliation reveals that the retaliation disparity is incongruent with these conventional motivations. This Article argues that securing compliance with both minimum labor standards and anti-retaliation reform should be integral parts of the civil rights agenda.

 

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October 6, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, Legal History, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

MeToo's Landmark Yet Flawed Impact on Dispute Resolution in the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021

Imre Szalai, #MeToo’s Landmark, Yet Flawed, Impact on Dispute Resolution: The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, Forthcoming

On March 3, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (the “Amendment”) into law. This Amendment is the most significant change in the last several decades to the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”), the main federal law governing arbitration since 1925. This landmark Amendment is also the most important federal legislation to arise thus far from the #MeToo movement. In a nutshell, the Amendment generally invalidates predispute arbitration agreements in cases involving sexual harassment or sexual assault, and the Amendment thereby allows victims to proceed with their claims in public court with more robust procedural protections. With hundreds of millions of arbitration agreements in place covering consumers and workers, the Amendment can have an impact on access to justice and shape how certain disputes are resolved.

While the goals of the Amendment are certainly laudable, the Amendment unfortunately suffers from several problems. Among other issues, the Amendment is poorly drafted, with at least three different interpretations concerning the scope of the Amendment, and it is uncertain whether the Amendment applies in the labor setting with collective bargaining agreements. The Amendment may also be unconstitutional as applied in certain settings involving state courts and state tort claims. The Amendment also raises several deeper questions about the regulation of arbitration and proper role of arbitration in society. This Article clarifies some of the confusion regarding the Amendment and suggests future reforms for arbitration law.

 

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October 6, 2022 in Business, Courts, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

SCOTUS Case on Animal Welfare Could Implicate State Power to Ban Abortion Pills Under the Dormant Commerce Clause

Michael Dorf, SCOTUS Animal Welfare Case Could Implicate State Power to Ban Abortion Pills

In October, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) v. Ross—a challenge by the pork industry to a California law that was adopted by referendum in 2018. Proposition 12 sets minimum welfare standards for the pigs raised for meat sold in California. Nearly all pork products sold in California come from pigs raised in other states. Thus, the plaintiffs—representing pig farmers, butchers, and the pork industry nationwide—argue that California is unconstitutionally regulating the interstate market.

The Constitution assigns to Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, and the Court has long held that even when Congress does not exercise that power—i.e., when the commerce power remains “dormant”—states may not take certain measures to regulate interstate. However, the lower court held that Prop 12 is not the kind of measure that the dormant Commerce Clause forbids.

The chief evil at which dormant Commerce Clause precedents aim is discrimination. States should not engage in trade wars with one another by erecting protectionist barriers against out-of-state competition.***The plaintiffs do, however, raise two other sorts of dormant Commerce Clause claim. First, they invoke the principle that even a non-discriminatory state law will be held invalid if its out-of-state burdens are clearly excessive relative to its in-state benefits. Second, they contend that Prop 12 is essentially an extraterritorial regulation. Just as Iowa could not forbid the recreational use of marijuana in California, so California may not tell farmers in Iowa and other states how to treat their pigs.***

[A]lthough the dormant Commerce Clause might not forbid states from banning importation of abortion pills from out of state, here the Commerce Clause does not lie dormant. Congress exercised its power to regulate the movement of medications in interstate commerce when it enacted the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act. In so doing, Congress delegated to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to approve drugs. While states may still regulate the practice of medicine, there is pretty good reason to think that FDA approval of abortion pills pre-empts (that is, displaces and nullifies) state laws restricting their sale or use. By contrast, the plaintiffs in NPPC do not contend that any current federal statute pre-empts Prop 12.

October 4, 2022 in Abortion, Business, Constitutional, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Empirical Evidence for a New Approach to Sexual Harassment for Businesses

Jennifer Drobac & Mark Russell, Unmasking Sexual Harassment: The Empirical Evidence for a New Approach  
17 N.Y.U. J.L. & BUS. 315-390 (2021)

If moral outrage were enough, 50 years of antidiscrimination law and two full years of #MeToo should have led to the rapid remediation and elimination of sexual harassment by corporate decisionmakers. However, moral condemnation apparently is not enough, so this Article urges a multifaceted approach that combines (to start) research, financial analysis, disclosure, preventative cultural change, and remediation (if still needed). Through disclosure, it suggests a tactic that combines the goals of social entrepreneurship and profit maximization. Estimates suggest that sexual harassment costs U.S. business millions, if not billions, annually. However, most stock exchange-listed companies avoid financial disclosure or other reporting of sexual harassment claims. The onus for the invocation of Title VII and other antidiscrimination protections falls upon the victims and targets of abuse. Our research and empirical evidence demonstrate that corporations need to make changes to improve the proverbial bottom line. The disclosures that companies do make lack useful information for users of financial reports. Further, a high number of perpetrators of corporate sexual harassment are those with power—key executives and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). Further, a number of non-disclosures of sexual harassment indicate poor management and culture at companies. Our results are consistent with companies that use arbitration and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to conceal sexual harassment. Our research supports a new SEC reporting requirement for all publicly traded companies (and a best practices approach for all organizations). Arguably, corporations would save much more by getting ahead of sexual harassment cases, disclosing problems, and avoiding expensive Title VII and shareholder derivative lawsuits. The evidence and common sense call for additional prophylactic action.

September 28, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Growing Gender Pay Gap from COVID Resignations and Suggestions for Reform

Amy Soled, Gender Pay Disparity, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Need for Reform, 87 Brooklyn L. Rev. 953 (2022) 

 The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened systemic inequities in the United States. One such inequity is gender discrimination in the labor market, evidenced by pay disparity—the difference between women’s and men’s wages. During the pandemic, women left the workforce at double the rate of men. This employment disruption will negatively affect women’s wages upon their return, as well as their lifetime earnings, further widening the pay gap. Pay disparity exploits more than half of the population, decreases gross national product, and stymies economic growth. This article addresses the reasons why existing legislation has failed to close the pay gap. Relying on the framework of successful Icelandic legislation, which has helped narrow gender pay disparities in Iceland, this article proposes federal legislative reform measures designed to shift the burden of proving wage discrimination from the employee to the employer. Instituting these changes would diminish the effect of implicit gender biases and, correspondingly, reduce pay disparity.

August 24, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

A Proposal for Vicarious Liability for Sexual Violence

Jennifer Brobst, Vicarious Liability for Risks of Sexual Violence in the United States: Not a Modest Proposal, 99 U. Detroit Mercy L. Rev. 233 (2022)

The author considers the intractability of legal remedies to the public health crisis of sexual violence in the United States, including the criminal justice system and federal anti-discrimination laws. She proposes, instead, as a systemic solution to a systemic problem, continued support for common law agency and tort theories of vicarious liability for businesses, municipalities, and the many leaders who create the spaces where sexual violence persists. Analysis includes a focus on the heightened duty of protection placed on common carriers, such as taxis and trains, and recent litigation in several states challenging the economically-motivated statutory exemptions for rideshare companies, despite the risk of sexual violence inherent in this mode of transportation.

August 23, 2022 in Business, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Taking a Closer Look at Legal Treatment of Contracts of Sexual Agreements

Albertina Antognini & Susan Frelich Appleton, Sexual Agreements, 99 Wash. U. L. Rev. (2022)

Few would find it surprising that an agreement for sex falls outside the bounds of contract law. Prostitution—defined as an exchange of sex for money—has long been a crime, a point that courts often make in declining to enforce agreements between unmarried partners. In fact, courts routinely invalidate contracts when sex forms the basis of a couple’s bargain, whether married or not, and whether the sex is explicit or inferred from the relationship itself.

A closer look at the legal treatment of sexual agreements, however, tells a more complicated story. Although courts reject sex as consideration for being “meretricious” or “immoral” and invoke the illegality of prostitution as the reason for this limit, sex not only can form a part of some contracts, it is inherent to the very definition of certain relationships. While courts reject private agreements between spouses regarding sex, they nonetheless deem sex “essential” to the existence of marriage, and they quantify just how much sex matters when considering loss of consortium claims. Moreover, several contemporary developments cast doubt on the proposition that sex, or a perceived similarity to prostitution, must always doom agreements. In the parentage context, for example, legislatures and courts increasingly treat paid surrogacy arrangements as enforceable contracts, rejecting earlier arguments that emphasized the parallels to illegal sex work. Courts have also become more willing to acknowledge parentage agreements that involve sexual conception, and surrogate partner sex therapy and adult entertainment employment have escaped legal sanction. Beyond the incipient recognition of sexual arrangements as legal contracts, contract-based ideas have become salient in contemporary sexual regulation. Modern understandings of crimes like rape and sexual assault emphasize sexual autonomy and make consent and its absence the pivotal considerations, displacing earlier elements of force, resistance, gender, and nonmarriage.

This Article juxtaposes the traditional approach to sexual contracts with the emerging convergence of sex and contract. In so doing, this Article argues that what is frustrating couples’ contracts, both in and out of marriage, is neither sex, nor prostitution, but rather marriage itself. Given that sex is not actually differentiating the contracts that courts enforce from those they do not and given the various inequities that result from the current system, this Article ends by considering what it would mean to carry the contractual approach to its logical conclusion by recognizing sex itself as subject to contract.

August 10, 2022 in Business, Family, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2022

Study Shows Effects from French Law Reform Requiring 40 Percent Gender Quota on Corporate Boards

Francois-Xavier Ladant & Louise Paul-Delvaux, "Women on Boards: Evidence from a French Reform Imposing a 40 Percent Gender Board Quota" 

In 2010 the French government mandated a 40% gender quota on corporate boards to be met by January 2017. The policy raised the average female board share of publicly traded firms from 10.3% in 2009 to 43% in 2019. We examine the effects of this staggering increase, leveraging new data on 200 French publicly traded firms from 2006 to 2019. Newly appointed female board members are as qualified as their male counterparts and less likely to have any family connection with incumbent board members. Female board members are also accessing powerful positions within the boardroom (committee membership and chairmanship). We then assess how these changes in corporate board composition (i) impact the implementation of board prerogatives and (ii) influence gender imbalances within the firm. Using an IV strategy exploiting the fact that the 40% threshold was set exogenously by the government and a Difference-in-Differences strategy comparing firms differently exposed to the quota, we show that an increase in the share of female board members has impacts at the very top. Indeed, we observe changes in practices that are aligned with better governance, higher likelihood of having a female CEO, and increased female representation in the top management. Beyond the very top of the firms’ hierarchy, an increase in the female board share has no or even negative impact on gender wage or promotion gaps.

July 22, 2022 in Business, International, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2022

An Operational Definition of Feminism for the Corporate Board Structure

Joan Macleod Heminway, Corporate Management Should All Be Feminists, 40 Law & Ineq. 409 (2022)

The title of this essay may alienate some readers, including the very people who may benefit from it most—corporate directors and officers. Specifically, the title directs the reader to a potentially uncomfortable normative conclusion, using what may be an off-putting “f” word. However, the essay is less about feminism (although it is about feminism) than it is about effective, efficient corporate management in the United States.

The essay offers an operational definition of feminism (as anti-sexism) derived from the merger of two foundational literary texts. It is hoped that the resulting reflections and observations will refocus at least some broader academic and practical discussions of gender— and other elements of difference, for that matter—in the corporate board context on structures, systems, and processes rather than on counting female directors (or other directors of difference) or on analyzing and specifying the particular roles they may serve in corporate governance. In doing so, the essay seeks to change not only the beliefs of corporate management, but also those of external corporate constituents and the public at large. In sum, this essay urges that directors and officers be feminists to change what they do and change what they see—in order to effectuate change in what we all see. me readers, including the very people who may benefit from it most—corporate directors and officers. Specifically, the title directs the reader to a potentially uncomfortable normative conclusion, using what may be an off-putting “f” word. However, the essay is less about feminism (although it is about feminism) than it is about effective, efficient corporate management in the United States.


July 18, 2022 in Business, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

New Bipartisan "Speak Out" Bill in Congress Removes Legal Barriers to Reporting Sexual Harassment from Nondisclosure Agreements

The Speak Out Act Removes Legal Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault

A new bipartisan bill would enable workers to report workplace sexual assault and harassment even if they signed a confidentiality agreement, nearly five years after the viral #MeToo movement exposed how the common legal tools can muzzle survivors.

 

Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told The Washington Post they introduced legislation Friday that would empower survivors to report instances of abuse in the workplace. The bill, called the “Speak Out Act,” would prevent employers from enforcing nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreements (NDAs) in instances when employees and workers report sexual misconduct.

 

“This is a preventive piece,” Frankel said. “When companies that are going to have offenders are aware that they cannot hide illegal sexual harassment, that they cannot put it under the rug, they’re going to take more steps from the get-go to keep it from happening.”

 

NDAs are standard features of employment contracts that protect sensitive company information. They’re common across industries: Over one-third of the U.S. workforce is bound by an NDA, according to a 2018 Harvard Business Review report.

July 6, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Effectiveness of Dispute Resolution for Gender Discrimination Claims

Catherine Ross Dunham, Social Truths in the Workplace: How Adversarialism Undermines Discrimination Litigation 

This article explores the effectiveness of dispute resolution for gender discrimination claims in the American system of civil litigation. Adversarialism is a defining feature of the American system of civil justice, beginning with reduced trust in the quasi-inquisitorial system of Chancery in the nineteenth century and escalating with the increased importance of lawyers and public trials in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Although adversarialism remains of great importance in some aspects of the American system, this article questions whether the adversarial system is the best dispute resolution system to address workplace-based discrimination claims, as those claims are intimately connected to changes in social and cultural understandings within the workplace and within American society.

The tenets of our system over-rely on the assumption of a shared social context to define social truth. But that assumption is flawed in workplace discrimination litigation as workplace context varies by profession, and the worker experience varies based on the individual’s position in the hierarchy. For example, in a gender bias-driven workplace, a male supervisor may see the workplace culture as fair and merit-based, whereas his female contemporary may view the workplace culture as competitive and closed, seeing her position as that of an outsider who had to navigate her career path carefully. These varying perspectives create different social truths in the workplace, which are challenged by litigation. When the female employee claims that she was discriminated against in an unfair workplace, her social truth is thrust against the social truth of other supervisors and managers who view the workplace as fair. Litigation places those two conflicting understandings of workplace culture into direct controversy and positions the relevant parties as adversaries not only on the legal issues, but also on the issue of what is true about the workplace culture, reducing the opportunity for meaningful cultural change within and without the workplace.

This article asks what type of dispute resolution system can create a more reliable assessment of workplace social truth. By exploring options such as the quasi-inquisitorial systems of American Chancery and European conciliation, as well as the role of arbitration in American civil litigation, the article suggests that a non-adversarial approach allows for a more holistic resolution of workplace controversies. If a conflict is overseen by a judicial officer who can approach the conflict from a place of conciliation, cognizant of the relevant community and social context, resolution options can not only offer relief to the plaintiff within the subject workplace, but can also protect the relevant economic and cultural interests of the defendant. Conflict resolution which attempts to understand the competing social truths of the workplace, can offer an opportunity for voluntary change in the workplace without placing parties fully at risk, as they are in the “winner-take-all” litigation scenario. Furthermore, as our social truths evolve and change, our dispute resolution system, which de facto manages those truths through adversarial litigation, should be reconsidered for its role in creating new truths about whether the workplace is fair to all.

June 13, 2022 in Business, Courts, Equal Employment, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bringing Feminist Theory to Study the Moral Rights Protections of Copyright Law

Carys Craig & Anupriya Dhonchak, Against Integrity: A Feminist Theory of Moral Rights, Creative Agency, and Attribution, Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Moral Rights, Ysolde Gendreau (ed), Edward Elgar (Forthcoming)

The term “moral rights” captures a collection of personal rights of the author that run parallel to economic copyright interests. These moral rights include the right of attribution (the right to be associated with the work as its author) and the right of integrity (the right to object to modifications of the work that may prejudice the author's honor or reputation). It is generally agreed that moral rights occupy a unique place (the moral high ground, if you will) within the copyright realm, reflecting an intimate and ongoing personal connection between the author and their work that is deserving of acknowledgement and respect. Yet it is not generally recognized that feminist theory has something to say about the nature of this intimate personal connection and the rights that it seemingly entails.

This Chapter explores insights that feminist theories can bring to the study and development of moral rights protections in copyright law. We begin by explaining why certain facets of conventional moral rights theory (typically based on the writings of Kant and Hegel) are ill-suited to—indeed inconsistent with—a feminist approach in both concept and effect. Conceptually, they demand and support an individualized and romanticized conception of the (patriarchal) author-figure. In practice, to the extent that strong moral rights of integrity and association limit dialogic engagement and transformation of protected works, they risk suppressing the kind of critical and counter-hegemonic expression that is vital to a feminist political agenda. Employing alternative feminist conceptions of situated selfhood, relationality, and dialogic authorship, we then explore what it might mean to reimagine moral rights in a way that resists claims to exclusion and control, but reflects the personal, social, and political value of creative agency. We present a limited defense of the right of attribution on these terms, and conclude with a call for attribution as feminist praxis.

June 13, 2022 in Business, Technology, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Corporate Gender Diversity Law Struck Down, But Other States and Countries Continue Trend of New Laws

Ms., Gender Diversity on on California's Corporate Boards was Too Good to Law

In 2018, California broke new ground for women when Governor Jerry Brown signed the first-in-the-nation requirement that publicly traded companies in the state have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019, and two or three (depending on company size) by the end of 2021. The bill’s co-sponsor state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson put it bluntly: “We are not going to ask any more.  We are tired of being nice. We’re tired of being polite. We are going to require this because it’s going to benefit the economy. It’s going to benefit each of these companies.”

 

Alas, it was too good to last. Last month, the law was deemed unconstitutional in a bench trial by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis because it wasn’t designed to remedy a “specific, purposeful, intentional and unlawful” instance of discrimination. She added that the state’s claims that diverse boards would directly boost California’s economy could not be proven.

 

It’s no surprise that Judicial Watch, the conservative group that prevailed in the litigation, trotted out the dreaded “Q Word” in opposing the measure: quotas. Legal precedent holds that quotas violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against people based on race, gender, religion, age and other protected identities, because they could lead companies or schools to discriminate against people outside the targeted groups.

 

Never mind that in this case the poor, underrepresented targeted group happened to be wealthy white men, who have dominated corporate boards since Queen Elizabeth I the granted the first corporate charter to the East India company in 1600.

 

The ruling is without question a legal and moral setback, but fortunately for the future of women on boards in corporate America, that particular train may have already left the station. In the short time the law was in force, the percentage of board seats held by women virtually doubled—from 15.5 percent to 31.9 percent. In raw numbers, that translates to 766 female board members when the law was passed to 2046 by the end of 2021. ***

 

It’s clear from the pitiful progress since California led the way that stronger action is needed. Cases in point: Washington state’s law requires boards to have at least 25 percent of their makeup be members who self-identify as women. But violators face no penalties. Three other states—Maryland, New York and Illinois—merely require boards to disclose their demographic makeup. Ohio “encourages,” but does not require, disclosure.

 

We should take a page from the European Union playbook, where 40 percent female board seats for publicly traded companies were required as of March of this year. Under the new rules by the Council of the E.U., listed companies must meet the mandate by 2027

June 13, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, International, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

A Feminist Approach to Interpretation of World Trade Organization Agreements to Reveal the Lack of Neutrality

Anna Ventouratou, A Feminist Approach to the Interpretation of the WTO Agreements: Systemic Integration as a Gender Issue 

The normative content of international trade law is often depoliticised. The emphasis of trade lawyers and theorists on economics and the ‘technical’ nature of trade mechanics attempts to present the multilateral trade regime as ostensibly neutral. However, it is undeniable that the processes of trade liberalisation have a strong impact on the living conditions of people around the globe. This impact is asymmetrical: whilst trade liberalisation has created jobs for millions of workers, including millions of women, and has brought, at cases, on an individual level, greater economic independence, equality in the household, and personal empowerment, it seems that women are often negatively affected by the implementation of international trade law and policies. Moreover, despite their crucial role in increasing competitiveness and productivity, women rarely enjoy the benefits of trade liberalisation.

Although the need to re-evaluate established practices through a gender perspective is increasingly recognised in the international community, recent efforts by governments in the context of the WTO and other international institutions to engage in relevant discourse have been characterized by women’s rights groups as ‘pink herrings’: they seemingly address women’s rights but are essentially designed to mask the failures of the WTO and its role in deepening inequality and exploitation.

This paper asserts, firstly, that this is a fair criticism to the response of the WTO. It discusses how trade liberalisation has disproportionately affected women, especially women from lower incomes, rural areas and marginalised communities. It demonstrates that mere political declarations that call for inclusive economic growth and encourage the participation of women to economic activities ignore the realities of intersectional discrimination and the living conditions of millions of women that are employed precariously, under dangerous or unhealthy conditions and are denied access to public goods and basic social services. In other words, it demonstrates that trade liberalisation has a clear gendered impact.

Secondly, the paper suggests that a corrective step towards addressing the adverse impact of current trade regulations on women would be the adoption of an interpretative approach that is more deferential to international human rights law. This deference would require a paradigm shift in the approach of the WTO adjudicative bodies to the interaction of human rights law and trade law. The paper argues that the interpretation of the WTO Agreements in light of applicable human rights rules is not only analytically appropriate but also desirable from a feminist perspective.

June 9, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Limits of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act

David Horton, The Limits of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act  
132 Yale Law Journal Forum (2022 Forthcoming)

In March 2022, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (the Ending Forced Arbitration Act). The bill voids pre-dispute arbitration clauses in cases with allegations related to sexual misconduct. The legislation—which earned bipartisan support—was a stunning victory for the #MeToo movement and critics of forced arbitration.

However, this Essay explores a design choice that limits the impact of the new law. Previously, Congress has restricted forced arbitration through standalone statutes that apply with the full force of its legislative power. Conversely, federal lawmakers inserted the Ending Forced Arbitration Act within the FAA. Thus, the Ending Forced Arbitration Act only governs if the FAA governs. But the FAA is subject to several exceptions. In turn, when a case falls through the cracks of federal arbitration law, state law applies. Counterintuitively, the Essay demonstrates that many states require arbitration where federal law now does not. Thus, to truly achieve the goal of preventing allegations of sexual misconduct from being sent to private dispute resolution, either Congress must separate the Ending Forced Arbitration Act from the FAA or states should revise their arbitration statutes.

June 8, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Violence Against Women, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Study Finds that Women Lawyers Make Up Less than 10 Percent of Deal Leaders

Tracey E. George, Albert Yoon, Mitu Gulati, Gender, Credentials and M&A  

Since the 1990s, women have made up roughly half of law school classes. Attrition between entry to law firms and partnership results in women comprising 20 and 25 percent of partners. But who makes it to the top of the partnership? Is there yet more gendered attrition? Constructing a unique dataset of publicly-filed M&A deals and detailed biographical information of M&A lawyers, we find that women make up fewer than 10 percent of deal leaders. When we look at the factors that determine who becomes a deal leader we find that credentials – both educational and professional – matter. But they matter more for women. And one credential – attending a top law school – seems to matter a lot. Using conversations with senior lawyers, we try to get at some answers for why.

June 7, 2022 in Business, Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)