It's Currently Fine for Lawyers to Sexually, Racially Harass Each Other

But that could change Monday
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2016 8:36 AM CDT
It's Currently Fine for Lawyers to Sexually, Racially Harass Each Other

Rules against discrimination and harassment in the workplace are pretty much the norm. Except for one rather unlikely profession: lawyers. The New York Times shares accounts of female lawyers being called "honey" or "darling" in court, black lawyers being called racial slurs, demeaning physical contact ("I got the pat on the head," says one woman), and more. Victims of this kind of behavior say it's done by opposing lawyers to get in their heads and gain an advantage in court. But that could change Monday when the American Bar Association is scheduled to vote on an amendment proposed by the National Association of Women Lawyers that would ban discrimination or harassment "on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status."

“Changing the comment to a black-letter rule makes an important statement to our profession and the public that the profession does not tolerate prejudice, bias, discrimination and harassment,” reads a report submitted to the House by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, per the ABA. Similar rules are already in place in 23 states, but this amendment would create national guidelines for the legal profession. Critics of the amendment say it would hamstring lawyers in court. The director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom at the Christian Legal Society worries it will "impair the ability to zealously represent clients." (More lawyers stories.)

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