Target: Linda Klein, President of the American Bar Association
Goal: Applaud the American Bar Association for passing a resolution that will protect its members from harassment.
Harassment “on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law” is now prohibited by the American Bar Association (ABA) due to recently updated guidelines. While the rule may seem obvious and common-sense, there were previously no protections for members of the association. Sign the petition and commend the ABA on updating its policies to reflect modern sensibilities and issues.
Prior to the passage of the resolution, members of the ABA had few ways to seek professional redress if they were harassed by colleagues. For instance, one lawyer was groped by another at a holiday party. The same harasser asked her crude and invasive questions about her sex life with her husband.
When the woman complained to the ABA, she was told that there was nothing in the rules that could hold her colleague accountable for his actions–the association could only get involved if the harasser broke the law. The woman ended up having to file criminal chargers against her harasser.
On perhaps a more day-to-day level, the new rule would prevent opposing counsel from using demeaning words like “sweetheart” or “darling” in court, which will protect lawyers, their cases, and their clients from being unfairly undermined through harassment.
These rules follow the adoption of similar laws in more than 20 states. The new guidelines will standardize practices among ABA members across the country, and they are certainly a major step forward. Sign the petition and applaud the ABA’s decision.
Dear President Klein,
Congratulations on the passage of a new anti-harassment guideline for the American Bar Association. This resolution will provide members of the association with a safer workplace and prevent them from being disadvantaged in the courtroom by demeaning, undermining, or condescending remarks.
Although some may complain that the new guidelines are an example of excessive political correctness, these are common-sense practices similar to policies already present in most workplaces. Everyone deserves to work where they can be sure of their safety and well-being and, failing that, where they can be sure of speedy and fair redress.
Under the previous guidelines, harassers had to be criminally charged before the ABA could intervene. This added an unnecessary and time-consuming difficulty for victims of workplace harassment, and all the while they may have been forced to work side-by-side with their harasser, or try to maintain their authority opposite them in a courtroom.
The new anti-harassment guidelines may be basic and common-sense, but they are absolutely essential to creating a safe work environment and the fairest trial conditions possible. Thank you for updating your rules to reflect the realities of practicing law today, particularly as a woman or a minority.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SalFalko