The #metoo movement has increased the focus on sexual harassment cases and how courts analyze them. One way to increase the reach of harassment law is hidden in plain sight: the text of Title VII itself.
Title VII, the federal law that prohibits harassment based on race, sex, and other protected traits, has two main provisions. Under Title VII’s first provision, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to do the following:
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
I ask no favors for my sex. . . All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks. – Sarah Moore Grimké, American abolitionist and suffragette.
At the beginning of RBG, a documentary of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she recounts the time that she famously used this quote during an oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States. As Justice Ginsburg reflects on her use of the words, and repeats them, she reveals a sly, satisfied smile.
I am a fan of documentaries and Ginsburg, so seeing RBG was high on my summer to-do list. I took an afternoon and headed over to the Esquire to watch it.
If one has made a point of drinking in every interview and piece on Ginsburg that one can, as I have, one notices that about half of the documentary is made up of these already published interviews. There is the footage of her being interviewed by Nina Totenberg, footage of her workout routine, and interviews of her talking about the time she famously dozed off during the State of the Union.
Everyone will have different experiences while working over the summer. Some may find the work load difficult or easy. Some may find the law frustrating or rewarding. At some point, all law school students will experience these feelings, however not everyone will experience the same work environment. Some students will experience microaggressions.
Microaggressions are brief and commonplace — daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities and invalidations, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults to the target person or group or “outsiders”. “Outsiders” are individuals who do not come from the dominant culture. They are women, people of color, and the LGBQT community. Usually, the “well-intentioned” people are the microaggressors–they are the ones who actively say and/or believe they are not racist, sexist, or homophobic; however, their actions or expressions say otherwise.
On March 24, 2018, more than five hundred men and women marched through Memphis Tennessee. Most of them had spent a large part of their lives in prison– a combined 3,501 years among them– for crimes they did not commit.
The march was the closing event for the 2018 Innocence Network conference, a gathering of exonorees and lawyers working on behalf of those wrongfully convicted. Exonorees came from every state in the country and from countries across the globe. They marched with attorneys and advocates and family. They held signs demanding change in the system that had wronged them. Demanding accountability. Demanding, at least, public recognition that innocent men and women were being arrested and convicted by agents acting on the public’s behalf.
Today Ru-El Sailor is a free man, after spending 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Over the years, Sailor continuously maintained and fought to prove his innocence. Then, finally, on March 28, 2018, the Cuyahoga County Court vacated his sentence.
How Sailor got Wrongly Convicted
In November 2002, Sailor was hanging out with his friends at a bar on the East Side of Cleveland. Across town, Nicole and Cordell Hubbard got into a dispute with Omar Clark . The matter got out of hands – threats, guns, and then shots rang out, leaving Clark dead. Cuyahoga County prosecutors roped in Sailor who Cordell Hubbard’s best friend at the time, wrongly believing that Sailor was the second man in this fatal shooting. Sailor testified that he was not the shooter nor was involved in this violent outburst. However, after a trial that included shady eye witness testimony that could not place Sailor at the scene, a jury still convicted Sailor. The court sentenced him to 28 years to life with the possibility of parole.
Guest Contributors: Gibran Pena-Porras (’19) and Natalia Trotter (’19)
The University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Latino Law Student Association (LLSA) and UC Law Women (UCLW) student organizations had the pleasure of hosting an immigration panel with guests Professor Yolanda Vazquez, from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Attorney Julie LeMaster from the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center, and Attorney Deifilia Diaz from the Law Offices of Valencia and Diaz. The different focal areas of immigration law that each of these panelists work with every day provided for a lively and diverse discussion of current immigration issues.
These are only a few words Professor Janet Moore used to describe the Honorable Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (ret.), this year’s Judge-in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
I had the pleasure to attend her lecture on Race and Policing, and have lunch with her the following day. As a law student, I’ve always told myself that I will be the change I want to see to paraphrase Mathama Gandhi. But, like many other law school students, I get bogged down by the environment at the law school. I stress out most of the time. I don’t get enough sleep. I find myself comparing me to other people making me insecure. I constantly fight the urges to lash out because of insecurities. In just two years, I forgot why I wanted to be a lawyer. However, Judge Shira Scheindlin reminded me why I made that choice.
We’re excited to host Judge Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (ret.) as our Jugdse-in residence the week of February 26, 2018. While in law school, only 10% of Judge Schiendlin’s class were women. Judge Schiendlin was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Recently, she wrote an article about women in the legal professions. In this article, she not only shares her personal experience as a federal judge but also other women’s experiences.
In the 1980s, a young female lawyer and her lawyer husband attended a party hosted by a club only allowing male lawyers. The room was filled with young men celebrating their legal careers. One of the guests at this party handed the woman a name tag. Instead of writing her name, she wrote “discrimantee” and proudly placed it on her chest. “Well, it is true,” she said after getting several questions about it. (I should write “discrimantee” on all my name tags because nothing much has really changed)
Sharon Rowen’s Balancing the Scales, addresses discrimination using women’s narratives to guide the audience. Due to Ohio’s CLE requirements, Ms. Rowen had to pause the film and explain why she directed it this way. Rowen said the film is divided into 3 parts: 1) the oral history of female role models, 2) what keeps women from achieving higher positions, 3) women not making choices from a level playing field.
The University of Cincinnati was one of the first law schools to develop a joint degree in Women’s Studies and Law. In addition, the number of women applicants and law students has steadily increased over the years; women now comprise about half of every entering class. Despite these rising numbers, women in the law continue to face issues that merit special attention – issues such as pay equity, networking, promotions, etc. Fortunately, the College of Law has several centers and student groups that address issues faced by women in the law. These include the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Out and Allies, and If/When/How. However, over the past several years, a student group devoted solely to women in the law was non-existent.
UC Law Women, a student group formed in the 1980s, was founded to raise awareness of the unique issues faced by women in the legal community but, for a variety of reasons, faded away in the mid-2000s. Then, in the fall of 2016, Maria Catrina Castro, a current 2L, saw Law Women listed on UC’s organization page; she asked how to join and discovered the organization did not exist anymore. Disappointed, Maria made a mental note to reboot the organization. She knew it would not be possible in her first semester to create a student organization, so Maria waited until Spring 2017 to start the process. She approached students who took active roles in social and gender issues – and sought out a variety of perspectives to ensure that the club would be an inclusive group.