The New York Times reported last week that the American Bar Association has voted to officially forbid comments or actions that would single out someone on the basis of their sex, race, religion, disability or other factors. This is officially professional misconduct under the American Bar Association guidelines and rules. Female attorneys were complaining that they were too often hearing remarks from opposing counsels, Judges and the like, such as “darling” or “honey” or other similar remarks which could be interpreted as being sexist. These statements are undermining in nature, and will no longer be allowed. The rule defines “discrimination” as “harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice toward others.”
The penalties for violating such a rule are being left up to the state bar associations for determination. Fortunately, the family law arena in the collar counties of the Chicagoland area (and in Cook County in particular) are saturated with female family law attorneys, so this isn’t as much of an issue in our field of practice as it must be for many other female attorneys and Judges. However, the fact that this has been addressed on such a wide scale is telling of the problem that some female attorneys must be experiencing.
For the full article from the New York Times, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/10/business/dealbook/aba-prohibits-sexual-harassment-joining-many-state-bars.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0