Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 20

"

BEGINNING THE HARD WORK

Companies are really
looking at how they
can create a culture
of civility in the
workplace.

The Pipeline Parity Project joins other organizations motivated in the wake of
the MeToo movement to call for an end to systemic sexual harassment and
gender discrimination in the workplace. Many of these groups are targeting not
just accused individuals, but also employers whose culture and policies fail to
create an equitable environment in which all employees feel valued and safe.
Activists say the MeToo movement brought the problems of sexual harassment
and discrimination in the workplace into mainstream consciousness. Says
Coleman, "It's time for a deep reckoning over sexual harassment and the larger
systems that have kept this kind of behavior in place."
Activist Tarana Burke coined the phrase "Me Too" in 2006, but in October 2017 it
went viral after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, "If all the women who have been
sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people
a sense of the magnitude of the problem." And they did.
The #MeToo hashtag took off on social media, offering women and men a
different outlet to describe their experiences with assault and harassment.
Personal stories continue to flood social media today, sometimes with vivid
details, sometimes with just the hashtag #MeToo or #TimesUp.
Since 2017, more than 900 high-profile figures have been publicly accused of
sexual harassment and assault, rape, workplace misconduct, and other related
behavior, according to a tally compiled by crisis consultancy Temin and
Company. And activists say the MeToo movement is just getting started.

KARA M. MACIEL, Founding Partner
Conn Maciel Carey LLP

"Yes, there's been so much progress in the past year with the MeToo
movement," says Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National
Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C. "People have shared their stories,
prompting serious conversations about harassment and other workplace
issues. Now the hard work begins. The MeToo movement created a change
in our culture, but institutions can be slow to catch up to the outside world."

ASKING BIGGER QUESTIONS
In recent decades, employers have attempted to keep sexual harassment
and discrimination in check, but in a rote way, say activists, with blanket
behavioral policies and generic online or in-person training.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
In a recent interview, actor Idris Elba said the MeToo movement is "only difficult if you're
a man with something to hide."

doing, they are engaging in gender discrimination and potentially denying women equal
opportunities in the workplace."

But not everybody feels that way. Some people, and particularly some men, are finding
that navigating the workplace can be challenging in the MeToo era. For example, some
men fear false accusations or a rush to judgment over innocent behavior. In general,
employees, regardless of gender, have expressed confusion about the best way to
interact with fellow employees.

Bess says there's a basic, commonsense rule to follow when it comes to casual conversations. "If you're having a private conversation at work, but not about work, and you
wouldn't want it repeated to your significant other, then maybe there's a problem with
that conversation," she says.

Attorneys who specialize in employment law say that following some basic rules will
help with any uncertainty on how to behave in the modern workplace.

Other employment law experts suggest coaching for employees who can't tell the difference
between appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL
First off, refrain from inappropriate workplace touching and on-the-job romance, says
Joseph T. Ortiz, a partner and employment law specialist at Best Best & Krieger LLP.
In addition, do not forward sexually charged content in work emails and "use good
judgment when deciding who you are going to allow to be your social media friend."
Amy Bess, former D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee chair and a shareholder in the Washington,
D.C., office of Vedder Price and chair of the firm's labor and employment practice, says that
men have told her they've "solved the problem" of how to interact with women at their firm.
"They say they will no longer go on business trips with female coworkers or have private
closed-door meetings with a female subordinate," says Bess. "My reaction is that in so

20 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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MARCH 2019

*

LEARN WHAT'S OK, NOT OK

"If there are employees who are concerned about their behavior or how to work with their
female colleagues, then they should be proactive in addressing those concerns," says Kara M.
Maciel, chair of the labor and employment practice at Conn Maciel Carey in Washington, D.C.
"They should try and get training or executive coaching to make sure that everyone feels
comfortable in the workplace and they know the boundaries of appropriate behavior."

CREATE SAFE ENVIRONMENTS
Finally, law firms may want to reconsider creating situations in which employees struggle
with inappropriate workplace behavior.
"Some companies and law firms are rethinking how they do their office holiday parties,"
says Maciel. "Traditionally these parties can involve a lot of alcohol, which can lead to poor
behavior. So maybe it's time to find a different way."


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Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Efect
Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 42
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Pro Bono Efect
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover4
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