HOUSTON, Texas. In the wake of the “Me Too” movement, more women have been coming forward about their experiences with sexual harassment on the job. Yet, when it comes to fighting certain types of harassment in the courtroom and in government, the laws still have a long way to go. Take the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995. Under this law, members of Congress can use taxpayer money to settle claims with their accusers. The House recently passed a law that would require members of Congress to settle claims with their own money, and the Senate passed similar legislation, but the New York Times reports that lawmakers would only be required to use their own money to pay compensatory damages. Taxpayer money can still be used to compensate victims for other damages.
Female lawyers also face unique challenges in certain situations. The Atlantic recently reported on cases where female lawyers found themselves the target of courtroom motions asking them to restrain themselves from emotional displays. These kinds of motions are perfectly legal, but they have the potential to bias a judge or jury against the lawyer by implying that this lawyer might be “too emotional.” The motions can use sexist attitudes that women are “too emotional” against them, coloring their arguments.
These “no crying” motions are often filed by men against women. Judges will often deny these motions, but when it comes to how the jury or judge perceives the woman who is the target—the implication has been made.
The Atlantic reports that women and men are equally represented in law schools, but men still outnumber women in the courtroom. According to one report, women only make up 25% of attorneys in the New York State Bar Association.
In the courtroom, women can face a range of aggressions and micro-aggressions, from judges that openly comment on female lawyer’s attire to their tone of voice. Women also face a double-standard when it comes to displaying emotions like anger, impatience, or indignation in the courtroom. While a male attorney may be able to show these emotions, the jury or judge may not look favorably upon a woman who displays these same emotions. Major law firms are often male-dominated arenas and women may have difficulty networking to advance their careers.
With women comprising only 33 percent of federal trial judges, women lawyers often find themselves under scrutiny by overwhelmingly male judges. Many of these judges are from an older generation and some go as far as to make openly sexist and demeaning comments in court.
Sexism and harassment are major issues in our society. Even in cases where judges touched and even assaulted female lawyers in the courtroom, the Atlantic reports that some women waited years before speaking up. Fighting for your rights can be challenging regardless of your job or position in society. Based on current reports even lawmakers and lawyers are not exempt from this societal issue.
If you believe you have been discriminated against or suffered sexual harassment in your field, consider speaking to Moore & Associates, Houston, Texas employment law attorneys. Our firm can help you seek a sexual harassment of discrimination claim if you have been a victim of workplace harassment. Visit us at https://www.mooreandassociates.net/ to learn more.
Moore & Associates
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675
Houston, TX 77002