The American Bar Association (ABA) recently passed a rule that prohibits lawyers from discriminating against or harassing any individual based on race, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, national origin, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status. The rule protects counsel, defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or any individual involved in the process of practicing the law from sexist, derogatory, or offensive verbal or physical actions. Violators will face penalties imposed by the state bar association that can include monetary fines or suspension from practicing law.
Misogyny in the Courtroom
Prior to the ruling, many female lawyers complained that sexist remarks, gestures, and actions by opposing counsel undermined their professionalism and intimidated witnesses, plaintiffs, and defendants. Remarks such as “honey,” “sweetheart,” “darling,” and other condescending or inappropriate gestures are now defined by the ABA as “harmful verbal and physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice toward others.” Lawyers that knowingly engage in this type of behavior are in direct violation of the rule and subject to penalty.
The ABA has included defined parameters on what sexual harassment is, and the locations where it can occur. Sexual advances, request for sexual activity, or unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is considered sexual harassment under the new rule. Any location wherein a lawyer interacts with witnesses, colleagues, judicial employees, or other counsel is considered to be a protected setting. Bar association events, business or social functions of a professional nature, law offices, and law firms are also included in these settings.
The ABA rule was prompted by a case in California in which a judge imposed a fine to a lawyer who made a derogatory remark to a female counselor on the opposing team. The judge termed the remark sexist and a professional discourtesy that reinforced the male-dominated attitude of the legal profession.
Cherry Hill Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Victims of Sexual Harassment
If you or someone you know feels they have been discriminated against or sexually harassed by an employer, the reputable team of Cherry Hill employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can help you claim justice. We have over 40 years of experience in all areas of employment law, and are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of our clients who have faced discrimination in the workplace.
Call us at 732-842-6500, or 856-985-9800, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. With offices conveniently located in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients in Cherry Hill, Middletown, and throughout the state.