The American Bar Association has officially declared that it is professional misconduct to discriminate against or harass opposing counsel, or anyone else, in the course of practicing law.
This means that comments based on sex, race, religion, disability, or any other factor is now forbidden. This was proposed after a series of frequent complaints from female lawyers who were tired of being called demeaning, sexist names, like “honey” and “darling.” As many women, especially in but most definitely not limited to the professional workforce, know, these types of sexist remarks are not only belittling, but also very rarely result in consequences.
Now, the consequence for such acts will be determined by the state bar association. Penalties could include a fine or suspension of practice, depending on how severe the offense is.
In response to fear that this new law could infringe on freedom of speech, the rule was amended to ban offensive conduct only if the lawyer is aware of his or her harassment/discrimination. Discrimination will be defined as “harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice toward others.”
Some states have already adopted similar rules to this law.
This is a great start in action against gendered harassment that other professional fields can follow.
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