Bias against women: Not even Attorneys are safe!
WASHINGTON, D.C. – No one is safe when it comes to workplace discrimination, not even female attorneys are safe. No matter your industry, you could be a New York Judge or a Supreme Court Justice, gender discrimination is a pervasive problem in American workplaces.
Discrimination at the Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently discussed the evolution of the women’s rights movement, what it is like to be interrupted on the bench by her male colleagues—i.e. “mansplaining.” “Everyone knew that racism is an odious thing,” Justice Ginsburg said of the late 1960s and 1970s. “But when I started out in this business, I had a persuasion job to do, because most men — men on the bench — thought that discrimination based on gender worked benignly in women’s favor.”
In fact, it was institutional gender discrimination that pushed Justice Ginsburg into her legal career. When she and her late husband, were planning to go to Harvard University for graduate school, the Ivy League school did not accept women, which left the law school as her only option. Later when Ginsburg became one of nine women in a Harvard Law School class of nearly 600, she found herself being told by the dean at a dinner that she was “taking the place of a man.” “Today, the discriminations are more subtle,” Ginsburg said and unconscious bias is a major problem.
Discrimination in New York
According to the 2017 Glass Ceiling Report, only 35% of lawyers working at top law firms are female, only 20% equity partners are women, and of the 300 firms included in the report, only nine had women make up a majority of their workforces. In a report released August 3, 2017, by the commercial and federal litigation section of the New York State Bar Association, it was found that women attorneys account for only 25% of lead counsel roles in New York courtrooms. “The low percentage of women attorneys appearing in a speaking role in courts was found at every level and in every type of court: upstate and downstate, federal and state, trial and appellate, criminal and civil, ex parte applications and multiparty matters,” the report said. Moreover, the report showed that “the more complex the case, the less likely that a woman appeared as lead counsel,” the report said.
Former U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Southern District of New York helped initiate the project. She stated, “We hope the report is widely disseminated and studied by lawyers in the public and private sectors, in-house counsel, and members of the judiciary… The time has come to turn things around. We look forward to seeing a real improvement when we repeat the study in two years.”
What is the cause of the lack of women being represented in law? Is subtle unconscious bias the problem? Luckily, the report also includes suggested solutions, such as law firm leaders assigning female attorneys to work with a partner who will not only see that they go to court, but that they also participate in the courtroom proceedings.
Change must come now, clients, the community, the legal world missing out on by woman being under represented in the legal world. Female attorneys and judges are equally as competent men, possess valuable skills, and are needed in order help more people in need of an attorney. Confidently as more employees take legal action, law firms will feel pressure to prevent gender bias in their workplaces.
Discrimination in Other Industries
Other industries have also shown a lack of progress as more women enter them. In academia, for example, women’s salaries are increasing, but women still hold the bulk of lower-paying positions and hold less full professorships. And in medicine, although women make up nearly one third of the country’s med students and doctors, women face an enormous wage gap and rampant discrimination based on sex. As more women enter fields from which they have traditionally been excluded and employers need to be more conscious about ensuring that their female employees can succeed. Thus, one clear solution is to encourage woman to continue to pursue their dreams and fight back when employers discriminate against them because of their sex.
Federal, State, and City Laws Protect Women and Minorities
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (“EEOC”), enforces certain laws that protect women and other minorities, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, and makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace.
Similarly, New York City Human Rights Law and New York State Human Rights Law protect women and other minorities by making it illegal for an employer to discriminate against such employees. The experienced New York City sexual harassment and discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, work diligently to protect the civil rights of our clients in both the workplace and in Universities. Working together with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, our attorneys have settled cases with major Universities based on their racially discriminatory policies. If you feel like you have been discriminated against on the basis of your race, give our talented discrimination attorneys a call at (800) 807-2209 for your free consultation.
Call today to schedule a FREE sexual harassment or employment discrimination legal Consultation in NY, NJ & PA with one of our top rated employment law or sexual harassment attorneys here at the Derek Smith Law Group. You can reach us online or by calling . Our New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia labor & employment law attorneys handle a variety of cases involving sexual harassment, racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and other employment-related claims. We serve clients throughout New York, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. We also have offices in New Jersey and Philadelphia to serve you.
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