Thursday, May 11, 2017

Judicial Bias in Sex Discrimination Cases: Empirical Analysis

KnepperMatthew Knepper (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis) has just posted on SSRN his article (forthcoming J. Labor Econ.) When the Shadow Is the Substance: Judge Gender and the Outcomes of Workplace Sex Discrimination Cases. Here's the abstract of this important article, which quite literally takes research on implicit bias to a completely different level:

The number of workplace sex discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approaches 25,000 annually. Do the subsequent judicial proceedings suffer from a discriminatory gender bias? Exploiting random assignment of federal district court judges to civil cases, I find that female plaintiffs filing workplace sex discrimination claims are substantially more likely to settle and win compensation whenever a female judge is assigned to the case. Additionally, female judges are 15 percentage points less likely than male judges to grant motions filed by defendants, which suggests that final negotiations are shaped by the emergence of the bias.


Employment Discrimination | Permalink


Since gender is binary (at least in this study), unless I'm missing something this also means female plaintiffs are substantially less likely to settle or obtain judgment when male judges preside, and male judges are 15 points more likely to grant motions filed by defendants in workplace sex discrimination charges. It is interesting that the "bias" is assigned to the female judges relative to male judges, but why are male judges the referent rather than the other way around? Then the "bias" against discrimination claims would be assigned to male judges instead. Also note, there does not appear to be a comparable analysis of the effect on male plaintiffs assigned to male judges; only cases involving female plaintiffs were considered, why? Is it possible that male plaintiffs do better with male judges? This could be a reciprocal "bias", in other words. See also: Best, Rachel Kahn, et al. "Multiple disadvantages: An empirical test of intersectionality theory in EEO litigation." Law & Society Review 45.4 (2011): 991-1025.

Posted by: Catherine Albiston | May 15, 2017 11:07:11 AM

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