Friday, January 20, 2023

Legal Study Measures Impact of Social Structures of Old Boys Networks in Corporate Law

Afra Afsharipour & Matthew Jennejohn, "Gender and the Social Structure of Exclusion in U.S. Corporate Law" 
University of Chicago Law Review, Forthcoming

Law develops through collective effort. A single judge may write a judicial opinion, but only after an (often large) group of lawyers choose litigation strategies, craft arguments, and present their positions. Despite their important role in the legal process, these networks of lawyers are almost uniformly overlooked in legal scholarship—a black box in a discipline otherwise obsessed with institutional detail.

This Article focuses upon a particularly crucial way that the structure of professional networks may shape the path of the law. Prior qualitative research suggests that networks are a crucial source of information, mentoring, and opportunity, and that those social resources are often withheld from lawyers who do not mirror the characteristics of the typically male, wealthy, straight, and white incumbents in the field. We have a common nickname for the networks that result, which are ostensibly open but often closed in practice: “Old boys’ networks.”

For the first time in legal scholarship, this Article quantitatively analyzes gender representation within a comprehensive network of judges and litigators over a significant period of time. The network studied is derived from cases before the Delaware Court of Chancery, a systemically important trial court that adjudicates the most—and the most important—corporate law disputes in the United States. Seventeen years of docket entries across more than 15,000 matters and 2,700 attorneys were collected as the basis for a massive network.

Analyzing the Chancery Litigation Network produces a number of important findings. First, we find a dramatic and persistent gender gap in the network. Women are not only outnumbered in the network but also more peripheral within it compared to men. Second, we find that law firm membership and geographical location interacts with gender—women’s positions within the network differs by membership in certain firms or residence in particular geographies. Finally, as we drill down into the personal networks of individual women, we find arresting evidence of the social barriers female Chancery litigators regularly confront: From working overwhelmingly—sometimes exclusively—with men in the early years of their careers to still being shut out of male-dominated cliques as their careers mature.

The Article’s findings set the stage for subsequent research to test the connection between gender representation in litigation networks and discrete outcomes, such as the incidence of bias in judicial opinions. It also demonstrates how subsequent research can incorporate network structure into quantitative and qualitative studies of not only gender bias but also other forms of inequality in law. With respect to policy, it provides the necessary first step to crafting normative interventions that improve equitable access to social resources by making networks more empirically concrete. With that added clarity, the network approach then allows us to calibrate remedial options available to bar associations, law firms, and individual attorneys, leaving no level of the institutional setting untouched.

January 20, 2023 in Business, Courts, Equal Employment, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Missouri House Republications Adopted Stricter Dress Code for Women, Arms Must be Concealed

Missouri House Republicans Adopted Stricter Dress Code -- Just for Women

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives used its session’s opening day Wednesday to tighten the dress code for female legislators, while leaving the men’s dress code alone.

The changes were spearheaded by state Rep. Ann Kelley (R), a co-sponsor who was among the Republicans seeking to require women to wear a blazer when in the chamber. She was met by swift opposition from Democrats who called it “ridiculous.”

The state House eventually approved a modified version of Kelley’s proposal, which allows for cardigans as well as jackets, but still requires women’s arms to be concealed. Missouri Democrats tore into Republicans for pushing the new restrictions on what women in the chamber could wear. ***
 
While previous rules said that “dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots” were allowed to be worn by female lawmakers, Kelley, one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 11, said Wednesday that women needed to wear jackets on the floor as “it is essential to always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere.”

January 17, 2023 in Equal Employment, Legislation, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 16, 2023

NALP Publishes its Annual Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms

The National Association of Law Placement has published its 2022 data on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms.

The introduction outlines the findings and conclusions of this important annual report: 

Overall, women and people of color continued to make measured progress in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2022 as compared with 2021, according to the latest demographic findings from the analyses of the 2022 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. At the associate level, women now make up almost half of all associates — and will soon likely become the majority based on the summer associate demographics — where women have surpassed the 50% threshold for the past 5 years.

 

By race/ethnicity, Black associates saw the biggest year-over-year increase in representation, up by more than half of a percentage point to 5.77% of all associates. Likewise, Black summer associates saw large gains this year, increasing by 0.7 percentage points to 11.85% of all summer associates. The share of summer associates who are women and/or people of color continues to exceed that of associates by 6-15 percentage points, suggesting that the associate ranks will persist in their diversification over the next few years.

 

Progress at the partnership level has moved at a more sluggish pace, particularly for women of color. Black and Latinx women each continued to account for less than 1% of all partners in 2022. The percentage of Black partners overall increased by just 0.1 percentage points, from 2.22% of all partners in 2021 to 2.32%. Latinx partners experienced a similar increase, growing from 2.86% of all partners in 2021 to 2.97% in 2022. 

January 16, 2023 in Law schools, Race, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 12, 2022

Susan Saab Fortney on "Taking Courthouse Discrimination Seriously: The Role of Judges as Ethical Leaders"

Susan Saab Fortney has published Taking Courthouse Discrimination Seriously: The Role of Judges as Ethical Leaders in volume 70 of the Kansas Law Review (2022). The abstract provides: 

Sexual misconduct allegations against Alex Kozinski, a once powerful judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, spotlighted concerns related to sexual harassment in the judiciary. Following news reports related to the alleged misconduct, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. charged a working group with examining safeguards to deal with inappropriate conduct in the judicial workplace. Based on recommendations made in the Report of the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, the Judicial Conference approved a number of reforms and improvements related to workplace conduct in the federal judiciary. The reforms included revising the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges. As amended, the Code of Judicial Conduct for U.S. Judges now clearly states that judges should neither engage in, nor tolerate, workplace conduct that is reasonably interpreted as harassment, abusive behavior, or retaliation for reporting such conduct. Under this provision, judges should not turn a blind eye to others’ misconduct, but should accept their responsibilities as ethical leaders committed to a diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace where harassment is not tolerated. Drawing on the Report of the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, related studies, and a survey of state codes, this article examines areas where state Codes of Judicial Conduct and related procedural rules should be revised to address more effectively the serious problems of harassment and other workplace misconduct at the courthouse.

December 12, 2022 in Courts, Equal Employment, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

Friday, November 11, 2022

Different Facets of Feminist Lawyering in India

Shalu Nigam, Different Facets of Feminist Lawyering in India 

Much is being written about feminist lawyering in the West, but what is the purpose of feminist lawyering in the patriarchal context in third-world nations? While reflecting on case laws and activism in India, this essay argues that feminist lawyering in a profoundly hierarchical society is a much broader concept than that of traditional lawyering where a lawyer works not to `win the case’ but aims at the larger goals of eliminating inequalities, eradicating oppression, challenging sexist stereotypes, abolishing fascism and addressing conditions that perpetuate domination. In a society, where citizenship rights are denied to specific groups based on social parameters such as gender, race, caste, class or religion, feminist lawyering in such a context has to be understood broadly as a practice that supports those on the margins while holding the state accountable. It is about questioning the androcentric norms within and outside the courtrooms, asking the law, courts and society to be sensitive about gender concerns and to recognize and enforce the citizenship rights of half of humanity. This essay concludes that the purpose of feminist lawyering is to negotiate and contest the rights at various levels where feminist lawyers strive to transform the androcentric law and the layered, hierarchical society with the aim to enforce constitutional provisions of equality, liberty and social justice in reality.

November 11, 2022 in International, Theory, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2022

Gender Disparities in Law Firm Partner Pay

The ABA Journal reports on ongoing disparities in law firm partner pay with some movement toward lessening the gap.  

The average male law firm partner earns 34% more than the average female partner, which is less of a differential than in prior years, according to a survey by recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa in association with Law360.

Average compensation for male partners in midsize and large law firms is $1,212,000 for male partners and $905,000 for female partners, according to the 2022 Partner Compensation Survey. A summary and a link to download the survey is here.

The pay differential was 53% in 2018 and 44% in 2020.

Average partner compensation overall was $1,119,000, up 15% from 2020. Median compensation was $675,000.

October 24, 2022 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2022

Bloomberg Law on "Women's Big Law Exodus"

Ayanna Alexander published an article for Bloomberg Law titled, Women's Big Law Exodus Picks Up Pace in Blow to Diversity HuntThe article summarizes data published by Leopard Solutions.  

Veteran women attorneys are jettisoning Big Law in favor of in-house jobs at a higher rate, an accelerating trend that hits top law firms at a time when they’re fighting to improve their diversity.

In 2021, only 35% of women who left one of the top 200 law firms in the US joined another Big Law firm . . . . Through the first nine months of 2022, that number has shrunk to 28%. Moving to in-house positions remains the most popular second choice for women who say that gives them more control over their careers.

* * * 

Big Law firms intending to improve their diversity need to consider the factors driving women away from their ranks, which may mean taking a harder look at how firms are structured and operate, said Sonya Olds Som, the global managing partner for the Legal, Risk, Compliance & Government Affairs practice group at executive search firm Diversified Search Group, which also places in-house attorneys.

October 10, 2022 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 16, 2022

Study Tracks the Progress of Women's Representation and Achievement in Law Schools 1948 to 2021

Elizabeth Katz, Kyle Rozema & Sarath Sanga, Women in U.S. Law Schools, 1948-2021 

We study the progress of women’s representation and achievement in law schools. To do this, we assemble a new dataset on the number of women and men students, faculty, and deans at all ABA-approved U.S. law schools from 1948 to the present. These data enable us to study many unexplored features of women’s progress in law schools for the first time, including the process by which women initially gained access to each law school, the variance in women’s experiences across law schools, the relationship between women’s representation and student achievement, and the extent to which women occupy lower status faculty and deanship positions. We contextualize our findings by situating them within the vast qualitative literature on women’s experiences in law schools and the legal profession.

See also ABA J, Law School Achievement Gap by Gender for Faculty and Deans Examined in New Paper

September 16, 2022 in Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book Lady Justice Tells the Stories of Women Lawyer Heroes from the Last Few Years

 

Lady Justice by Dahlia Lithwick

New Book, Dahlia Lithwick, Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America

 
 

September 16, 2022 in Books, Courts, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 12, 2022

ABA Survey on the Impact of Raising Children on Legal Careers

The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession is conducting its first-ever survey studying how raising children impacts legal careers

The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, joined by many other national affinity bars and regional bar associations, seeks your help in this first-ever national survey for understanding the impact of raising children on legal careers. We are seeking participation by men and women, both with and without children.
 
Your participation will contribute to understanding how different policies and practices can help lawyers with children navigate their careers, and how employers can create better workplace cultures that benefit all lawyers.
 
Please complete the Survey by September 28 at 11 p.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Central/9 p.m. Mountain/8 p.m. Pacific time.
Blog readers can circulate this survey in their networks to help capture this important survey data. 
 

September 12, 2022 in Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Misattribution of Authorship in Legal Work Masks Women's Efforts and Contributes to Gender Gap in Legal Profession

Jordana Goodman, Ms. Attribution: How Authorship Credit Contributes to the Gender Gap, Yale J. Law & Tech. (forthcoming)

 Misattribution plagues the practice of law in the United States. Seasoned practitioners and legislators alike will often claim full credit for joint work and, in some cases, for the entirety of a junior associate’s writing. The powerful over-credit themselves on legislation, opinions, and other legal works to the detriment of junior staff and associates. The ingrained and expected practice of leveraging junior attorneys as ghost-writers is, to many, unethical. But it presents a distinct concern that others have yet to interrogate: misattribution disparately impacts underrepresented members of the legal profession.

This Article fills that space by offering a quantitative analysis of gendered disparate impact of normative authorship omissions in law. Using patent practitioner signatures from patent applications and office action responses, which include a national identification number correlated to the time of patent bar admission, this work demonstrates how women’s names are disproportionately concealed from the record when the senior-most legal team member signs on behalf of the team. This work illustrates that, when women reach equivalent levels of seniority, they do not overexert their power to claim credit to the same extent as their male peers. This parallels sociological findings that competence-based perception, accent bias, and perceived status differentiation between male and female colleagues can manifest in adverse and disparate attribution for women. The gender gap in the legal profession is exacerbated through this practice by falsely implying that women do less work, are more junior, and do not deserve as much credit as their male colleagues.

Addressing the failure of current practices requires cultural changes and regulatory action to ensure proper and equitable attribution in scholarship, doctrine, and industry. Legal obligations to maintain the integrity of the legal profession must include these affirmative steps to remedy de facto and de jure discrimination.

July 7, 2022 in Equal Employment, Legislation, Technology, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 20, 2022

Trailblazing and Living a Purposeful Life in the Law: A Dakota Woman's Reflections as a Law Professor

Angelique Eaglewoman, Trailblazing and Living a Purposeful Life in the Law: A Dakota Woman’s Reflections as a Law Professor, 51 Southwestern U. L. Rev. (2022)

This Essay is a reflection from my perspective as a Dakota woman law professor on my fifth law school faculty. In the illuminating work of Meera Deo, light is shone on the experience of women of color legal academics. "Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia" is a book that should be required reading at every law school. As women of color are faculty members in every law school in the United States, the research, analysis, and recommendations tailored to the experience of women of color law faculty should be a priority topic in those same law schools. As a Native American woman law professor, my experience and journey in legal academia resonate with many of the topics in this important work.

In Part I of this Essay, the necessity of trailblazing is discussed due to the lack of Native American women in the legal academy. Issues around visibility, ethnic fraud, and tribal sovereignty will be discussed. Part II will explore the challenges identified in "Unequal Profession" through a raceXgender framework and provide a personal perspective on dealing with such challenges. The themes of invisibility and lack of respect experienced as a Native American woman law professor will be discussed. The final section in Part III will provide insight into the motivation to stay the course and continue to make space in legal academia. In living a purposeful life, there is a choice to be a law professor as a Native woman with the goal of holding the door open for more Native American faculty, law students, and legal administrators to walk through.

June 20, 2022 in Education, Law schools, Religion, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 10, 2022

Recognizing and Crediting the Invisible Labor of Women Law Professors of Color

Ederlina Co, Weathering Invisible Labor, 51 Southwestern Law Review 258 (2022)

Professor Meera Deo’s Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia powerfully demonstrates how the legal academy has adopted many of American society’s social hierarchies as they relate to race and gender. Inspired by Unequal Profession and using a Critical Race Feminism framework, this Essay centers on women of color professors and the problem of invisible labor in legal academia.

Although for many women of color professors invisible labor involves a labor of love, this Essay contends that the legal academy’s unwillingness to recognize it in a meaningful manner marginalizes women of color professors, devalues how important invisible labor is to law students, law schools, and the legal profession, and perpetuates a race-gender institutional bias. This Essay recommends steps that law school administrators and allies can take immediately to recognize invisible labor but also suggests that the time has come for the legal academy to begin to reexamine how it values “service” more broadly.

June 10, 2022 in Books, Law schools, Race, Theory, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The History of Women-Led, Non-Lawyer Legal Aid in Boston, Chicago, and Elsewhere

From the Legal History Blog, Jeon on Women-Led, Non-Lawyer Legal Aid in Boston

Kelsea A. Jeon, the holder of an M.Phil in Socio-Legal Research from the University of Oxford, has published Legal Aid Without Lawyers: How Boston’s Nonlawyers Delivered and Shaped Justice for the Poor, 1879–1921 in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy:

Women nonlawyers were some of the first actors to provide organized legal aid to America’s poor. Yet, today, unauthorized practice of law statutes bar nonlawyers from providing legal help, citing concerns about malpractice and public harm. This Article uses a historical case study to challenge conceptions that nonlawyers cannot provide effective legal services to the people. The study focuses on the development of legal aid in Boston via two organizations, the nonlawyer-led Women’s Educational and Industrial Union and the lawyer-centric Boston Legal Aid Society. Although organized legal aid in Boston began with the nonlawyers at the Union, they were eventually overtaken by the lawyer-centric Legal Aid Society. This paper examines this transition in legal aid practitioners, emphasizing how nonlawyers provided effective legal help. In doing so, it challenges the modern-day conception that access to justice requires access to an attorney and serves as a powerful counter to claims that nonlawyer practitioners endanger the public.

For more on the history of women-led legal aid, see Felice Batlan,  Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid , 1863-1945 (Cambridge Press 2015):

This book re-examines fundamental assumptions about the American legal profession and the boundaries between “professional” lawyers, “lay” lawyers, and social workers. Putting legal history and women's history in dialogue, it demonstrates that nineteenth-century women's organizations first offered legal aid to the poor and that middle-class women functioning as lay lawyers, provided such assistance. Felice Batlan illustrates that by the early twentieth century, male lawyers founded their own legal aid societies. These new legal aid lawyers created an imagined history of legal aid and a blueprint for its future in which women played no role and their accomplishments were intentionally omitted. In response, women social workers offered harsh criticisms of legal aid leaders and developed a more robust social work model of legal aid. These different models produced conflicting understandings of expertise, professionalism, the rule of law, and ultimately, the meaning of justice for the poor

 

June 9, 2022 in Books, Courts, Legal History, Poverty, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Feminist Judging: Theories and Practices

Kristin Kalsem, Feminist Judging: Theories and Practices, in Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the U.S. (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna L. Williams, eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2022 Forthcoming)

This chapter begins by examining the original liberal feminist goal of increasing the number of women judges to attain equal gender representation. Part I canvases multiple reasons why greater gender diversity on the bench is desirable, from its symbolic value to its potential for reducing and counteracting implicit bias of legal actors. It also charts how scholarship has grown to encompass “outsider” judges, marked by race, ethnicity, and other marginalized identities, with particular attention to the experiences of female judges of color.

Part II then turns to analyzing scholarship that focuses on the ideal of “feminist judging.” It recounts how, borrowing from cultural feminism, feminist scholars have applied the concept of an “ethic of care” and discussed the possibilities and impacts of empathetic judging. Lastly, it explores how feminist judging takes into consideration the racial and gender dimensions of controversies and brings context to the forefront, employing an intersectional and social justice lens.

Moving from theory to practice, Part III discusses two recent scholarly projects that integrate feminist judging into the real-world practices of judges. One such project applies the methods of legal participatory action research (“legal PAR”) to design and implement a state wide judicial training on best practices in intimate partner abuse cases. Using a community-based research and problem-solving paradigm, legal PAR effectuates a bottom-up approach to law and policymaking. The second project – the Feminist Judgments project -- critiques the idea of judicial objectivity and reimagines landmark legal cases through the rewriting of judicial opinions from feminist perspectives. Inspired in the United States by similar projects in Canada and Great Britain, it has grown from a volume of twenty-five rewritten U.S. Supreme Court opinions to multiple volumes devoted to specific areas of law like employment discrimination and reproductive justice.

Part IV concludes with considerations for future feminist agendas in reaching the end goal of achieving social justice in the process and outcomes of judging. Throughout, this chapter is guided by the belief that what judges decide, as well as the process through which they reason and explain their decisions, matters.

June 7, 2022 in Courts, Judges, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

4th Circuit Rules Constitution's Fifth Amendment Equal Protection Clause Protects Against Sexual Harassment

Court Revives Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Targeting Federal Judiciary

A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a former public defender’s lawsuit challenging the federal judiciary’s handling of her sexual harassment and discrimination claims about a supervisor’s unwelcome attention at work.

 

The three-judge panel sided in part with Caryn D. Strickland, a former public defender in Charlotte, and said U.S. court leaders are not entirely shielded from being sued by judiciary employees. In its unanimous ruling, the panel recognized Strickland’s constitutional right — and that of all federal judiciary employees — to be free from sexual discrimination in the workplace.

 

The ruling comes as leaders of the federal judiciary have overhauled the court’s process for reporting misconduct, and as Congress is considering legislation to extend protections to the judiciary’s more than 30,000 employees who lack the same legal rights as other government and private-sector workers.

 

In a 118-page decision, the appeals court said Tuesdaythat judiciary employees in management roles can be held liable for “their deliberate indifference to sexual harassment committed by a federal judiciary employee or supervisor against another federal judiciary employee,” according to the opinion, written by Judge Mary Beck Briscoe of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

 

The panel said the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause “secures a federal judiciary employee’s right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace. It thus both guards against sexual harassment perpetrated by other federal judiciary employees and protects federal judiciary employees from deliberate indifference on the part of federal judicial employees charged with preventing sexual harassment and investigating complaints of sexual harassment.

 

The decision is: Strickland v. United States (4th Circ. Apr. 26, 2022) (procedural due process and equal protection claims)

   C. Strickland’s equal protection claim

We next turn to the second claim for relief asserted in Strickland’s complaint, which alleges that defendants “violated the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which confers a right to be free from sex discrimination in federal employment.” ***

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, in pertinent part, that “[n]o person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of 77 law.” U.S. Const. Amend. V. “In numerous decisions,” the Supreme “Court has held that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment forbids the Federal Government to deny equal protection of the laws.” Davis, 442 U.S. at 234 (internal quotation marks omitted). “To withstand scrutiny under the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, classifications by gender must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to achievement of those objectives.” Id. at 234₋35 (internal quotation marks omitted). “The equal protection component of the Due Process Clause thus confers . . . a federal right to be free from gender discrimination which cannot meet these requirements.” Id. at 235.

In analyzing Strickland’s Fifth Amendment equal protection claim, the district court began by concluding that Strickland was “attempt[ing] to graft precedent interpreting Title VII onto the Fifth Amendment.” JA, Vol. IV at 1520. The district court in turn concluded that the Fourth Circuit would not recognize such a claim. Id. at 1521. In support, the district court stated that “the Fourth Circuit has not held that courts must apply Title VII standards to free-standing Fifth Amendment claims” and, “[t]o the contrary,” has “rejected a similar attempt to graft Title VII standards onto a free-standing Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim.” Id. at 1522 (emphasis in original) (citing Wilcox v. Lyons, 970 F.3d 452, 460 (4th Cir. 2020)). The district court concluded that “Strickland’s complaint is devoid of any allegation that women are treated differently than men under the EDR Plan,” and that “Strickland does not allege that the actions taken against her were on the basis of her sex.” Id. at 1523. “Instead,” the district court concluded, Strickland “theorizes that the [defendants] discriminated against her on the basis of sex when they mishandled 78 her sexual harassment complaints, ultimately leading to retaliation and constructive discharge.” Id.

We conclude that the district court misconstrued both the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Wilcox and, more importantly, Strickland’s equal protection claim. In Wilcox, the Fourth Circuit “conclude[d] that a pure retaliation claim is not cognizable under the Equal Protection Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment. In doing so, the Fourth Circuit noted that neither it nor the Supreme Court “has recognized an equal protection right to be free from retaliation.” 970 F.3d at 458. Instead, the court noted that it “has consistently considered retaliation claims brought under Section 1983 to be more properly characterized as claims asserting a violation of the First Amendment.” Id.

The court explained that “[r]etaliation for reporting alleged sex discrimination imposes negative consequences on an employee because of the employee’s report, not because of the employee’s sex.” Id. at 460. “The very premise of a retaliation claim,” the court noted, “is that the employer has subjected an employee to adverse consequences in response to her complaint of discrimination.” Id. Thus, the court noted, “[t]he necessary causal link is between the employee’s complaint and the adverse action, not between her sex and the adverse action.” Id. The court emphasized that “continued sexual harassment and adverse treatment of a female employee unlike the treatment accorded male employees remains actionable as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause even when the sex discrimination and harassment continue after, and partially in response to, the female employee’s report of prior discrimination and harassment.” Id. at 461 (emphasis added). But, the court noted, “[t]he employee’s claim in such a case is not a claim of pure 79 retaliation, but instead implicates the basic equal protection right to be free from sex discrimination that is not substantially related to important governmental objectives.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis added). Although the court’s holdings were limited to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, we have no doubt, given the Supreme Court’s equivalent treatment of equal protection claims under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, that they should be extended to retaliation claims brought under the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. See Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636, 638 n.2 (1975) (noting that the Supreme Court’s “approach to Fifth Amendment equal protection claims has always been precisely the same as to equal protection claims under the Fourteenth Amendment.”).

***Thus, Strickland has not alleged a pure retaliation claim, but rather has alleged a violation of her right under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment to be free from sex discrimination.

We also agree with Strickland that, under Fourth Circuit law, her complaint adequately alleged that defendants were deliberately indifferent to her complaints of sexual harassment. The Fourth Circuit has held in the context of a § 1983 action that a school official can be liable under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for his or her deliberate indifference to student-on-student sexual harassment. Feminist Majority Found. v. Hurley, 911 F.3d 674, 701–02 (4th Cir. 2018).***

Because the Supreme Court’s “approach to Fifth Amendment equal protection claims has always been precisely the same as to equal protection claims under the Fourteenth Amendment,” Weinberger, 420 U.S. at 638 n.2, we conclude that the principles outlined by the Fourth Circuit in Feminist Majority Foundation apply equally to the circumstances alleged by Strickland in this case. More specifically, federal judiciary employees who occupy supervisory roles and/or who are charged with enforcing an EDR plan can, under Feminist Majority Foundation, be held liable under the Fifth Amendment 82 for their deliberate indifference to sexual harassment committed by a federal judiciary employee or supervisor against another federal judiciary employee. This conclusion is based on the principle that the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause secures a federal judiciary employee’s right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace. It thus both guards against sexual harassment perpetrated by other federal judiciary employees and protects federal judiciary employees from deliberate indifference on the part of federal judicial employees charged with preventing sexual harassment and investigating complaints of sexual harassment.

The elements of such a claim, we conclude, are essentially identical to those outlined by the Fourth Circuit in Feminist Majority Foundation: (1) the plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment by another employee or supervisor; (2) the plaintiff alerted supervisory officials and/or officials responsible for overseeing the court’s EDR plan about the sexual harassment; (3) the supervisory officials and/or officials responsible for overseeing the court’s EDR plan responded to the allegations with deliberate indifference; and (4) the deliberate indifference was motivated by a discriminatory intent.***

Thus, in sum, we conclude that Strickland’s complaint adequately alleged that defendants violated her equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment and that the district court erred in concluding otherwise.

April 28, 2022 in Constitutional, Equal Employment, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Gender Pay Gap of High-Achieving Women in the Legal Profession

Milan Markovic & Gabriele Plickert, "The Gender Pay Gap and High-Achieving Women in the Legal Profession" 
Law and Social Inquiry, Forthcoming

Although women have made significant strides in the legal profession, female attorneys continue to earn far less than male attorneys. Relying on survey data from a large sample of full-time attorneys in Texas, we find a gender pay gap of $35,000 at the median that cannot be explained by differences in human capital or occupational segregation. We also provide evidence that the legal market especially disadvantages women who excel in law school. Whereas high academic achievement boosts male lawyers’ incomes substantially, it does not have the same effect on female lawyers’ incomes. High-achieving female lawyers earn less than high-achieving male lawyers across practice settings and earn less than their lower-achieving male counterparts in private practice. We conclude that discrimination in the legal profession operates partly by devaluing female attorneys’ human capital, such that sterling academic credentials and other traits that are valued in men are far less valued in women.

April 21, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 4, 2022

Navy Ship to be Named After Justice Ginsburg

Tim Stelloh of NBC News reported on March 31, 2022 that a navy ship will be named after Justice Ginsburg:

A Navy fuel ship will be named for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in recognition of her efforts to advance women's rights and gender equality, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said Thursday.

The future John Lewis-class replenishment oiler — a ship that transfers fuel to the Navy's operating carrier strike groups — will be the eighth such vessel to be named for an historic figure who fought for civil and human rights


Others include former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojurner Truth, gay rights icon Harvey Milk and civil rights leader John Lewis.

April 4, 2022 in Courts, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)