The #MeToo movement helped to shine a light on serious problems with sexual harassment in a number of Missouri industries, including entertainment and technology. It even helped to expose politicians involved in harassment or discriminatory behavior on the job. However, other advocates have raised concerns about gender discrimination and sexually inappropriate conduct in the judicial system, especially as this branch of government is responsible for making important decisions about civil rights and labor laws. One woman testified before the House of Representatives about her experience as a victim of harassment as an appeals court judicial clerk, noting that she found little recourse to report her situation or address the problem.
The lawyer noted that judges are treated with a great deal of respect and accommodation within the system and that offending a judge has long-term potential for retaliation throughout a person’s professional career. Despite the fact that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is just as unlawful as the harassment itself, it continues to be a serious concern for women in many workplaces, including the courts. Many women who work closely with judges are recent law school graduates with a long career ahead to look forward to, especially with an important recommendation from a judge.
In some cases, judicial employees are not protected by the same civil rights laws that protect other workers, like the Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Civil Service Reform Act. Law clerks serve short terms, falling into an “excepted” category which, experts note, was never intended to exempt them from protection from harassment.
Workers who are subjected to unwanted sexual advances on the job in any industry may look for a solution to protect them from retaliation. An employment law attorney may provide advice to affected employees and work with them to seek justice and accountability.