Wednesday, January 5, 2022

UPS Women Employees File Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Sex Discrimination

UPS Women Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit

UPS Face Class Action Over Alleged Sexual Discrimination

According to a proposed class action lawsuit, UPS has an “old boys’ club” culture in which female employees, particularly those over the age of 40, face systemic age as well as gender discrimination.

 

Old Boys’ Club Norm

The lawsuit, which was filed against United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) and Ricardo Moreno, a coordinator at UPS’ Oakland, California hub, claims that female employees face a pervasive double standard and frequently report to work uncertain of their position and whether they will be demoted regardless of seniority.

 

According to the UPS Women Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit, female UPS employees, particularly those perceived as “outwardly feminine,” are required to demonstrate their commitment to UPS in ways that no other employee is and are subject to a standard operating procedure that prevents them from being promoted to supervisory roles and earning overtime regardless of performance.

 

UPS fails to compensate these women fairly for their seniority and, in doing so, leaves a permanent mark on their careers, adding that the options available to women at UPS are sometimes pointless.

 

Concerning Moreno, the lawsuit states that he is the “chief harasser,” encouraging other UPS supervisors to undermine and single out women he believes are too feminine to perform more work.

 

Additionally, the case contends that Moreno assigns supervisors to perform in violation of UPS policy in order to deprive female employees of time on the clock as part of a broader practice of harassment and discrimination against women.

 

The UPS Women Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit asserts that female UPS employees who speak up about unfair treatment “risk isolation,” i.e., assignment to areas with workflows that are too heavy for a single person, and the possibility of being driven out of their employment if they fail to reach the new, impossibly high standards.

January 5, 2022 in Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

NYC law to mandate salary transparency. Will it bridge gender and racial inequities?

NYC law to mandate salary transparency. Will it bridge inequities?

NPR's Adrian Florido speaks with economist Teresa Ghilarducci about a bill passed by the New York City Council that would require most employers to post salary ranges for jobs.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

The New York City Council last month passed a bill that requires private employers to post the salary range for all open jobs. The law is set to take effect in April. Similar laws already exist in a handful of places around the country. Their goal is to improve pay transparency and tackle inequities that often affect women, Black and brown people and other groups.

To learn more about these laws, we called someone who studies them. Professor Teresa Ghilarducci teaches economics and policy at the New School of Social Research in New York. Professor Ghilarducci, welcome.

January 4, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Beginnings: A Feminist Evaluation of Gendered Stigma in the Modern Legal Profession

New Beginnings: A Feminist Evaluation of Gendered Stigma in the Modern Legal Profession

By: Amanda M. Fisher

Published in: Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy, Volume 19:1

The modern woman lawyer faces many of the same challenges that women in law faced during their earliest entry into the profession. While circumstances have certainly improved for women in law, gendered stigma is still prevalent in the profession. In this article, “gendered stigma” refers to circumstances resulting from one’s gender as a salient feature of their work, serving to discredit one’s abilities and accomplishments. Women began to enter the legal profession in large numbers in the 1970s, gaining attention as they did so. Although early research on women in the law focused on blatant discrimination, that type of discrimination is fortunately less common now. Much of the modern research addressing women’s status in the legal profession, however, focuses on the quantitative evidence, like the number of women in the profession and their salaries as compared to men. Numerical evidence does show progress, but qualitative evidence reveals that the gender-driven experiences of women new to the profession are eerily similar to those of women who have long retired from the profession. This belies the assumption that simply improving numbers, e.g., having more women in the profession, would solve the disparities between men and women who practice law. This article relies on identity theory and stigma to inform the cycle of gendered stigma prevalent in the legal profession to critically examine basic tenets of the profession that must change for progress to flourish. This theoretical foundation can then inform practical solutions for mitigating the negative effects of gendered stigma on the profession and the individuals serving within it.

January 4, 2022 in Gender, Law schools, Masculinities, Theory, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 3, 2021

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace - Intersectionality's Role

Jamillah Bowman Williams, Maximizing #MeToo: Intersectionality & the Movement, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 1797 (2021).

This article addresses the intersectionality of identities in the context of sexual harassment, and how the failure to recognize the impact of this intersection results in responses to sexual harassment in the workplace that do not adequately protect women of color.  “Given the high rate at which women of color experience harassment and assault, the unique types of racialized sex harassment they experience, and the compounded forms of structural disadvantage they face in a range of domains, it is particularly important for anti-discrimination law to address their concerns.”  This is because, “the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism” and thus legal and social frameworks to address sexual harassment must “acknowledge the complex and overlapping web of racism and sexism.”  For example, current Title VII forces plaintiffs to choose whether to bring their discrimination case “because of race” or “because of sex” but not both, and “[e]mpirical research has found that plaintiffs bringing intersectional claims are less than half as likely as plaintiffs bringing single claims to win their cases.” Social reform movements have similarly fallen short.

Given broad access to social media, lower barriers to participation, and increased demands for an intersectional approach to feminism, #MeToo had the potential to have very inclusive participation across demographics, strong alliances, and coalitions, but the movement has fallen short of this opportunity.  The experiences of white affluent, and educated women have dominated the narrative with a focus on bringing down high-profile assailants [ ].

In response, Professor Williams proposes legal reform, organizational reform, and cultural reform to address the failure to account for intersectionality in the current response to sexual harassment.  “This strategy will benefit all victims of harassment and is particularly critical for women of color.”  Professor Williams warns that absent these “significant organizational and cultural changes, proposed legal remedies will continue to fail.”

December 3, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Race, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 2, 2021

First Federal Legislation on Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Reintroduced into Congress

First Federal Legislation on Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Reintroduced into Congress

On Wednesday, the first comprehensive federal legislation on workplace harassment and discrimination was reintroduced in Congress. The Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination—or BE HEARD in the Workplace—Act aims to create a safe and harassment-free workplace, expand protections, and help facilitate justice for workers nationwide. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Marie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and in the House by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.). 

 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you work—everyone deserves to be treated fairly, respectfully and with dignity,” said Murray.

 

The BE HEARD in the Workplace Act would:

  • extend the scope of current laws, including civil rights protections and anti-harassment laws, to include all workers, no matter the workplace’s
  • size, as well as extend these laws to apply to interns, fellows, volunteers, trainees and independent contractors;
  • widen the definition of “sex discrimination” at work to include harassment and any form of discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • require nondiscrimination training;
  • extend the statute of limitations for complaints from 180 days to four years; and
  • mandate that the Census Bureau do further research on harassment in the workplace.

 “Even with the laws we have on the books and the #MeToo movement shedding light on this problem, it’s still way too easy for employers to get away with committing these offenses,” said Hirono.To promote transparency and accountability, the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act would also stop pre-employment non-disclosure agreements and mandatory arbitration, which requires employees and customers to file complaints and resolve conflicts within the company, instead of in a court. Mandatory arbitration is used in 54 percent of the cases involving non-union employers in the private sector, and the system is disadvantageous to workers, who win only 1.6 percent of these cases on average. Rates of mandatory arbitration have increased since the onset of the pandemic.

December 2, 2021 in Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 29, 2021

Women of Color in Immigration Enforcement

Kit Johnson has posted her recent article on SSRN, Women of Color in Immigration EnforcementThis article was just published in volume 21 of the Nevada Law Journal 997 (2021). The article makes several important findings about gender diversity in immigration enforcement: 

Immigration enforcement agencies do not employ large numbers of female agents. The majority of female agents, however, are women of color. This is consistent with the remarkable diversity of immigration enforcement agencies. Women of color have the potential to benefit immigration enforcement agencies. Such agents have unique skills and abilities that can enhance their work, their engagement with the migrants they police, and the growth of agencies they operate within. Yet women of color also face barriers to their recruitment and retention that tie to their training, work, and workplace culture. DHS has been taking steps to diversify its law enforcement ranks. But it can do more. Just looking at the issues outlined in this Essay, the agency could: establish a daycare at the Artesia training center; eliminate training requirements that rest on upper-body strength if not a necessary component of immigration enforcement work; actively oversee training to expose and eliminate any sexist behavior by trainers; and aggressively work to end misogynist culture within the agency. All would make immigration enforcement agencies more welcoming to women of color, and that, in turn, could benefit the agencies. Finally, this Essay has led me to conclude that there is a real need for empirical focused on women of color in immigration enforcement, particularly within the OFO and ICE. It is my hope that this Essay may spark further investigation.

 

November 29, 2021 in Equal Employment, Race, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Internal Report on Culture and Processes at TIME'S UP

TIME'S UP just published Phase 1 of its report prepared by an independent consultant making "recommendations, tools, and plans that examine its structure, processes and culture.” The publication provides critical insights into the trajectory of the organization, a few of which are excerpted here:

  • "In its urgency to pursue a very noble vision, TIME’S UP’s mission and operational model was  largely undefined for some time. It grew rapidly, often chasing the short-term, important  issues of the day versus tracking activities back to the larger or longer-term strategic vision.  In so doing, the organization would be experienced by some of its employees and many  stakeholders as distracted or unfocused."
  • "While the fallout of the pandemic can in no way be blamed for TIME’S UP’s current state of crisis, it is still important  to acknowledge that it did have some effect on the overall functioning of the organization during the past two years and may have exacerbated existing structural/internal issues." 
  • "[I]nterviewees identified “conflicts of interest,” to use their words, that now seem readily apparent in certain professional and personal relationships (previous and/or  existing) maintained by the board chair, the CEO, and other board members."
  • "TIME’S UP has been negatively impacted by a perception of Democratic partisanship. Some questioned the  organization’s capacity to hold all accused of wrongdoing to the same standards of  accountability as well its ability to provide a consistent space for all accusers to come forward."  

The full report is available here. TIME'S UP's mission is to "create a society free of gender-based discrimination in the workplace and beyond. We want every person — across race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and income level — to be safe on the job and have equal opportunity for economic success and security."

November 22, 2021 in Equal Employment, Violence Against Women, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 19, 2021

Feedback Bias in the Legal Profession

Latonia Haney Keith, Visible Invisibility: Feedback Bias in the Legal Profession, 23 J. Gender Race & Just. 315 (2020).

In this article, Vice President Latonia Haney Keith, highlights “feedback bias” as a contributing factor to “the legal profession [ ] ‘losing the war on retention [with] women and minorities leav[ing] the profession because they feel unprotected and undervalued.’”  Feedback bias refers to the phenomenon of “employers and educators reinforc[ing] and perpetuat[ing] bias, albeit unintentionally” when providing assessment and evaluations to employees and students.  The article highlights three cognitive biases that affect feedback and evaluating performance.  The three are “confirmation bias, in-group bias and availability heuristic.”  For example, in the confirmation bias context:

“[G]etting noticed as a leader in the workplace is more difficult for women than for men.”  This is the confirmation bias cycle at work.  When people are consistently exposed to leaders that fit a particular mold, they will continue to seek out or notice only those leaders who fit that same mold.  So, when evaluating the performance of a lawyer or law student, a supervisor’s or faculty’s preconceived notions will impact their evaluation.  If, for example, a preconception exists that males are assertive, it will be easier for a supervisor or faculty to recall instances in which a male employee or student asserted themselves in a meeting. Conversely, a supervisor or faculty may easily forget instances in which a female employer or student similarly asserted herself by, for example, suggesting an effective strategy or navigating a tough client interaction.

The article then goes into how these types of bias can manifest in feedback provided to employees and students.  “Women are for more likely to receive critical, subjective or vague feedback, and their performance is less likely to be attributed to their abilities and skills. . . . When women [do] receive[] more specific feedback, it [is] either tied to their caregiving abilities, attribute[] their accomplishments to teamwork rather than leadership or ‘overly focus[] on their communication style.’”  How do we move forward then?  Vice President Keith suggests a number of solutions, particularly in the context of law school feedback, including leveraging anonymous evaluation processes, incorporating objective measures and articulable rubrics, avoiding ambiguity, incorporating a broader group of reviewers, and increasing the frequency of evaluation among other best practices. 

November 19, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Law schools, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Kellogg's (UK) to Give Staff Menopause, Fertility, and Miscarriage Leave

BBC, Kellogg's (UK) To Give Staff Fertility, Menopause and Miscarriage Leave

Cereals manufacturer Kellogg's has announced it will provide more support to staff experiencing the menopause, pregnancy loss or fertility treatment.

 

The firm said about 1,500 workers at its factories in Trafford and Wrexham and its Salford headquarters would benefit from a number of new measures.

 

They include extra paid leave for those undergoing fertility treatment or staff who suffer the loss of a pregnancy.

 

It said it was aiming to help staff feel "psychologically safe" at work.

 

The announcement was made as MPs are due to vote on a private members' bill later that, if passed, would make hormone replacement therapy free for those going through the menopause in England.***

 

Under the plans, managers will be trained on how to talk about the menopause and pregnancy loss and paid leave for pregnancy loss will be given without the need for a doctor's note.

 

It also intends to give staff going through fertility treatment three blocks of leave each year as well as access to a private space to administer treatment if necessary.

 

The firm's Europe vice-president in human resources Sam Thomas-Berry said it was "launching several new workplace policies for even better equity and inclusion".

November 17, 2021 in Business, Equal Employment, Family, Healthcare, Reproductive Rights, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

An Excerpt from Anita Hill's “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence”

“This Is Not That Bad” An Excerpt from Anita Hill's “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence”

Excerpted from Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Anita Hill.

“Not that bad” reflects the attitude that survivors often internalize; that our abusers’ behaviors “were not the worst thing that ever happened to us” serves as a coping mechanism that is problematic. In her anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, the writer, public intellectual, and cultural critic Roxane Gay writes with painful eloquence about how for a long time she minimized the gang rape she survived as a teenager. And the heartrending stories in her book from other women who experienced gender‑based violence include scores who remained friendly or intimate with harassers and abusers. Not That Bad poignantly reminds us of the way we deny our pain to keep living. Convincing herself that her experience was not as bad as others’ was Gay’s way of managing her trauma “instead of allowing the magnitude of it to destroy” her. But as Gay points out, this defense mechanism comes at a cost. In her case, as with countless other victims, it numbed her to the pain of her other bad experiences, as well as the trauma others suffered. “The surface of my empathy became callous,” she writes.

Looking back at how the Senate exchange went, I wonder, was Specter gaslighting me and the public, or was he mansplaining? I’ve concluded that he was doing both. If gaslighting was his intent, he was manipulating me (and the public) into questioning the reality and my perception of my own experiences. Given his condescending tone, Specter was also mansplaining—trying to convince us all that he knows better than me how a woman experiences sexual harassment. Mansplaining was the technique, and gaslighting was the goal. Both are forms of denial employed to discount claims of abuse, and they deserve to be called out because they prevent women from being heard and believed when they testify about abuse. Both tactics foster self‑doubt, coaxing victims into thinking that coming forward is pointless, that no one will care.

. . .

How do three simple words, “not that bad,” become so powerful? They gain steam when they are absorbed in all of our social systems, permeating survivors’ minds. The hold that those three little words have comes from hearing them repeated multiple times over the course of a lifetime. The exact language may change, as do the circumstances, but the message that your hurt is of no consequence, so back off, remains the same. Schools deny and neglect gender violence, undermining survivors’ confidence and secure identity even as small children. The same attitude exists in the workplace, which can lead survivors to feel self‑doubt. Individual denial breeds institutional denial, and survivors pay the price. Specter’s words were aimed at persuading me to doubt my significance. His strategy was to convince other potential witnesses and the American public that the stories survivors seek to share and the people who want to hear them are of no importance. Specter’s belittlement of my pain had one clear beneficiary, Clarence Thomas. To abusers, harassers, and rapists, “not so bad” is an absolution and, in Thomas’s case, an assurance that the Senate confirmation process would protect him. To survivors, these words are like a dagger.

November 16, 2021 in Courts, Gender, Judges, Legal History, SCOTUS, Violence Against Women, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 5, 2021

LGBTQ+ Protections: Bostock's Implication for Public Schools

John Dayton and Micah Barry, LGBTQ+ Employment Protections: the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and the Implications for Public Schools, 35 Wis. J. L. Gender & Soc’y 115 (2020).

In this article Professors Dayton and Barry provide a history of LGBTQ+ discrimination and its impact in U.S. communities and schools, examine in depth the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, and discuss the opinion’s implications for public educational institutions.  The article begins by recognizing “the central role employment plays in people’s lives . . . and the history of using employment discrimination to marginalize and harm vulnerable groups.”  It points out that “LGBTQ+ persons have been an especially vulnerable group, with laws in many states treating their LGBTQ+ status as a lawful basis for dismissal from employment” and that “the impacts of dismissal on their lives could be devastating.”

As is well known, the Bostock decision made clear that such discrimination in employment is illegal pursuant to Title VII.  Further, Professors Dayton and Barry argue, the decision “is likely to reach further than employment law and likely impact interpretations of Title IX.”  Thus, it has significant legal implications for public educational institutions.  As the article states:

Legal rights mean little, however, unless they are effectively translated from theory into practice.  Assuring non-discrimination for all LGBTQ+ persons in schools will require educational and cultural changes in schools, changes that are long overdue.  Public school officials would be wise to implement appropriate training and education programs for employees and students concerning LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion to assure legal compliance and that public schools are safe and welcoming places for everyone.

. . . [E]vidence suggests that awareness of protective workplace legislation decreases interpersonal discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons.  School officials must assure legal compliance, but school officials may also improve school culture by promoting equal rights and equal respect for all people.

In short public educational institutions, “must ensure that legally compliant polices are established, administered, and respected in their schools.”

November 5, 2021 in Education, Equal Employment, Gender, Law schools, LGBT, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Podcast: When Most of Law School Faculty Were Straight White Men, How Did Those Who Were Not Bring Change

ABA J Podcast, When Most of Law School Faculty Were Straight White Men, How Did Those Who Were Not Bring Change?, with Sean Scott and Joan Howarth.

In the late 1980s, law school groups for gay and lesbian students met off campus in case members didn’t want the school community to know their sexual orientation. And there were so few female faculty at law schools, if two or more were seen together talking, male faculty would ask what they were up to. So if they were actually up to something, such as persuading their dean to adopt a faculty parental leave policy that was longer than a few weeks, they would meet off campus, too.

November 4, 2021 in Equal Employment, Law schools, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Black Women in American Politics in 2021

The 19th's article, A Record Number of Black Women are Expected to Run for Office in 2022, highlights the current data and trends of Black women seeking elected office. It features a new report Reach Higher:  Black Women in American Politics in 2021

The article highlights some important statistics in the report. 

A Black woman has still never been elected governor. No Black women won statewide elected office in 2020. And although there are a record number of Black women state legislators at 354, only 12 hold leadership posts nationwide.

There have been only two Black women to serve in the Senate — Harris and Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois — but there are currently no Black women senators, despite a record 13 Black women running for Senate in 2020.

The article also highlights some of the barriers identified in the report facing Black women seeking public office. 

A June Open Secrets report analyzing the role of gender and race in competitive primaries in 2020 found that Black women Democratic candidates received less money from individual donors than any other group of candidates. Large donors on average raised a third as much for Black women as they did for White women.

Additionally, the report showed that Black women receive less money from early donors, as well as educators and retirees, who tend to fund Democratic campaigns. And while women candidates rely more heavily on women donors, those donors gave half as much to Black women and other women of color candidates as they did to White women.

More Black women have run for office as they have been frustrated by the status quo or have risen through the political pipeline, Greer said. And Black women have had growing success building diverse coalitions of voters.

October 25, 2021 in Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

It's Not About Leaning In. Negotiation Will Not Fix Sexism

Andrea Schneider, Indisputably, Negotiation Will Not Fix Sexism

Let’s start with the obvious–it pains me to realize that negotiation can’t fix everything.  As someone who loves to teach negotiation–and has long believed in the power of positive asking–I also need to recognize when individual action will not–and cannot–fix the ingrained biases and structural sexism that exists in the workplace.  A slew of recent studies back up this point in variety of ways that also point to a more nuanced understanding of what does need to be fixed.

To give a little history–many read Lean In and/or Women Don’t Ask and took these books as a call to focus on women’s deficiencies in negotiation.   This was despite that the fact that I and others had found no differences in perceived assertiveness among lawyers or other leaders.  (More from me in TEDx talk version here and research article here.)

Caveat– this is not to deny that differences in levels of assertiveness are found among young women in competitive, one shot negotiations with limited knowledge nor to discount the fact that failure to negotiate a higher starting salary leads to less money down the road.  It IS to say that these younger, less confident women should not be the template for advice to mature women in the workplace.  Numerous workplace studies have since confirmed that women and men ask for raises and promotions at the same rate–the problem is who receives them.

So–it is not that women don’t ask and it is not that women can’t lead–it is that the men (and women) who evaluate them do not promote them and underestimate their potential.  A study from Yale shows the disconnect between performance (in which women were rated highly) and potential (where moderately performing men were still given higher potential ratings than highly performing women )   This video interview with Prof. Kelly Shue talks through the study beautifully and the impact, over time, of this underassessment of women.  She and her researchers found that women were 14% less likely to be promoted each year–which resulted in a drop off from 56% women at the entry level to 14% women district managers.

Similarly, in an op-ed last week in the Wall Street Journal, renowned gender researcher Laura Kray and postdoc scholar Margaret Lee take on the “women don’t negotiate myth” and demonstrate that the pay gap results from women being given less responsibility over time–women lead smaller teams (despite the HBR results showing that women lead better) and this smaller leadership responsibility leads to less salary.

Moreover, study after study in Harvard Business Review have now shown that women are perceived as better leaders by their peers in 360 degree reviews–scoring higher than men on 17 of 19 measures before the pandemic and–in the face of a crisis–outperforming men even more.

October 21, 2021 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

CA SB 826 and its affects on the Labor Market regarding Female Directors

How Deep is the Labor Market for Female Directors? Evidence from Mandated Director Appointments

By: Daniel Greene, Vincent Intintoli, Kathleen M. Kahle

We examine the depth of the labor market for female directors following an exogenous shock to demand caused by California Senate Bill 826. Despite a surge in female appointments, new female director qualifications remain stable when benchmarked to control groups, indicating a deep labor market. Relative to the same control groups, we likewise find little evidence that investors view female director appointments more negatively following the law. However, stock returns to new female director appointments do not offset negative returns to the 2018 enactment of the law, suggesting that overall, investors still anticipate negative effects.

October 19, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 15, 2021

#MeToo: Unintended Consequences for Sponsorship of Women in the Workplace

Ann C. McGinley, #MeToo Backlash or Simply Common Sense?: It’s Complicated, 50 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1397 (2020).

The #MeToo movement brought much needed awareness and momentum to societal and workplace culture change.  Indeed, some perceive that the “movement has led to increased employer response, including updating of sexual harassment policies, providing guidance about appropriate work behavior, providing information about reporting harassment, and stopping or removing problematic employees.”  Unfortunately, the movement has also led to unintended effects of decreasing sponsor and mentor opportunities for women by men in leadership who fear sexual harassment allegations. Such fears, as discussed in this article, arise from stereotypes prohibited by law and include an unsupported presumption of frequent false allegations, not to mention are predicated on a heterosexual worldview. These fears can lead to men in positions of leadership refusing to engage in common work activities such as “mentoring, socializing, one-on-one meetings,” and travel with a female colleague or subordinate, although they will engage in these activities with similarly situated male colleagues. While this article acknowledges that something needs to be done to address these fears, Professor McGinley is adamant that “refusing to mentor and sponsor female lawyers is not the way to go.” 

In fact, it is detrimental to the advancement of women in the workplace. “Research demonstrates the importance of sponsorship, particularly for women and people of color” and “[i]n order for women to succeed [equivalent to their male counterparts], men must actively mentor and sponsor them.”  This is because, as Professor McGinley points out, that with the “vast majority of manager and senior leaders” being men, they have a central role in whether women’s advancement is promoted or hindered at work, simply by their choice of whether to be a sponsor.  The importance of sponsorship is summed up in this anecdote:

One tax attorney described how he supported his protégé all the way to partnership, having hired her in the first place.  He was confident of her ability to deliver and when long-term clients demurred at liaising primarily with a junior person, this attorney vouched for her expertise.  When she became the target of unfair criticism by another partner, he intervened, extorting from that partner an apology and a promise to look at the evidence and be less judgmental. In subtle and overt ways, he ensured that she was able to thrive which indeed she did, making partner in four years.

Professor McGinley takes the reader through the current status of sexual harassment law and its drawbacks in addressing this problem and others.  The article also sets forth solutions for how the law and employers can move forward in advancing women in the workplace by addressing more effectively sexual harassment and its direct and indirect effects.

October 15, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Unequal Profession, Unleashed

Unequal Profession, Unleashed

By: Meera Deo

Published in: Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 73, No. 3, 2021

This Essay initiates the Rutgers Law Review symposium, "Taking Our Space: Women of Color and Antiracism in Legal Academia," a collection of essays inspired by my book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (Stanford University Press, 2019). After briefly tracing the origins of the book project, I focus on five themes that outline responses as well as updates to Unequal Profession: (1) claiming my worth; (2) jumping on the bandwagon; (3) centering structural solutions; (4) being part of the solution—not the solution; and (5) understanding pandemic effects on legal academia. Together, these themes reveal the depth and difficulty of the work that the legal academy must take on in order to move our profession closer to equity.

The five themes presented here are insights I have gleaned along the way since Unequal Profession was published. Just as a qualitative researcher draws out patterns and observations from the data, I have performed some preliminary analyses on two-plus years’ worth of responses to Unequal Profession, as well as crafted a brief update on how various events of this past unfathomable year exacerbate raceXgender biases in legal academia. I share these observations so that aspiring authors, current academics, allies in practice, and administrative leaders can work together with me to craft a more equal profession. As the five themes outlined here demonstrate, achieving a more equal profession involves working not only to address naysayers, whose implicit and explicit biases may reinforce inequities, but also for each one of us to critically reflect on our own individual prejudices and opportunities for improvement.

October 12, 2021 in Books, Education, Gender, Law schools, Race, Scholarship, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 4, 2021

Black Women Police Officers Allege an "Enterprise-Wide Culture of Race and Sex Discrimination"

A class of Black female police officers in Washington, D.C. has sued the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) alleging an "enterprise-wide culture of race and sex discrimination and intense pervasive retaliation against those who dared to complaint about, report, or oppose unlawful discrimination." Every woman in the class has worked for MPD for years and has previously complained multiple times about race and sex discrimination.  The complaint alleges that: 

There are four fundamental characteristics of the MPD that this class action lawsuit seeks to change: 1) MPD has a male-dominated culture that accepts and perpetuates the most demeaning, degrading and disrespectful discourse and actions by and between officers; 2) MPD has a culture that nurtures and encourages supervisory and management officers to abuse their power to exact petty vengeance on subordinates and make their lives miserable; 3) MPD has a profoundly dysfunctional and corrupt EEO Office run by a man who has repeatedly expressed hostility to women officers, and who colludes with management to crush Black women who complain about race and gender discrimination and sexual harassment; and 4) MPD, with the full participation and/or approval of the Chiefs of Police, engages in repeated, coordinated and relentless retaliation campaigns against Black women officers who complain about or oppose discrimination, or other police misconduct. In combination, these four MPD characteristics create a profoundly toxic work environment for Black woman officers.

The 209-page complaint chronicles extensively the allegations against MPD and MPD's retaliatory responses. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, health care related to physical and emotional harms, reinstatement of terminated or retired officers, applicable back pay, revised performance records, reimbursement for leave associated with the discrimination, future damages, attorneys fees, and appropriate injunctive relief.  

October 4, 2021 in Equal Employment, Masculinities, Race, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

New Book and Reviews: Anita Hill's "Believing" Sees Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence as a Cultural and Structural Problem That Hurts Everyone

Anita Hill, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

“An elegant, impassioned demand that America see gender-based violence as a cultural and structural problem that hurts everyone, not just victims and survivors… It’s at times downright virtuosic in the threads it weaves together.”—NPR

From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

In 1991, Anita Hill began something that’s still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they were when she first testified. Believing is a story of America’s three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart.

NYT Review, Anita Hill Has Some Perspective to Offer

Anita Hill still speaks in the measured tones she did while being questioned before an all-white, all-male panel before the Senate in 1991 — a young law professor in a blue linen suit who would give the nation an overnight education in workplace sexual harassment.

 

Thirty years later, she is more academic than activist, focusing on pathways to progress, and continuing to teach law as a professor of social policy, law and gender studies at Brandeis University.

 

But to be honest, Hill’s patience is waning. “I really am running out,” she said in a video interview from her home in Massachusetts earlier this month.

 

Her new book, “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence,” due out on Tuesday from Viking, aims to channel that impatience into something more substantive — a manifesto of sorts.

NPR Review, "Believing" Is a Book Only Anita Hill Could have Written

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence is not a book about Anita Hill. Yes, it has plenty of her personal stories and, yes, it references her role at the center of the Supreme Court hearing firestorm that first acquainted many Americans with the concept of "sexual harassment." ***

 

The book first attempts to show how massive problems like harassment and assault are affecting everyone from the smallest children to adults, from the lowest-wage workers to the highest-paid celebrities. Then, Hill shows both the effects of the problem — the ways it not only hurts individuals but hampers political change and economic growth — and the myriad barriers to solving it. To try to tackle something so complex, she says, feels like trying to "boil the ocean."

September 29, 2021 in Books, Equal Employment, Race, Violence Against Women, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Accidental Feminism: Gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

Accidental Feminism: gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

Preface to: Accidental feminism: Gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

By Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2021.

In India, elite law firms offer a surprising oasis for women within a hostile, predominantly male industry. Less than 10 percent of the country’s lawyers are female, but women in the most prestigious firms are significantly represented both at entry and partnership. Elite workspaces are notorious for being unfriendly to new actors, so what allows for aberration in certain workspaces?

Drawing from observations and interviews with more than 130 elite professionals, Accidental Feminism examines how a range of underlying mechanisms—gendered socialization and essentialism, family structures and dynamics, and firm and regulatory histories—afford certain professionals egalitarian outcomes that are not available to their local and global peers. Juxtaposing findings on the legal profession with those on elite consulting firms, Swethaa Ballakrishnen reveals that parity arises not from a commitment to create feminist organizations, but from structural factors that incidentally come together to do gender differently. Simultaneously, their research offers notes of caution: while conditional convergence may create equality in ways that more targeted endeavors fail to achieve, “accidental” developments are hard to replicate, and are, in this case, buttressed by embedded inequalities. Ballakrishnen examines whether gender parity produced without institutional sanction should still be considered feminist.

In offering new ways to think about equality movements and outcomes, Accidental Feminism forces readers to critically consider the work of intention in progress narratives.

September 28, 2021 in Books, Gender, International, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)