Justice Brett Kavanagh’s recent confirmation hearing reignited the #MeToo national dialogue. The question remains – what happens when sexual harassment allegations are made in the very place that they are supposed to be heard – the Courts?
Several states are reexamining the way that judiciaries handle sexual harassment complaints. For example, Illinois recently launched a state-wide training for all 3,000 of its court personnel. The Conference of Chief Judges recently recommended that all judiciaries reexamine sexual harassment policies.
Illinois has a detailed history of sexual harassment complaints dating back to the 1970s. Complaints from female attorneys include judges’ failing to accept their appearance before the court when arguing a motion without proof of their bar admission. The new state-wide training will focus on making all staff aware of complaint reporting procedure and sensitivity training.
Well-known complaint procedures have a direct correlation with minimizing long-term issues in workplaces. Illinois and other states’ choice to work to prevent/address complaints are a step in the right direction given the critical importance of the judiciary in creating an equal playing field for all litigants and counsel.
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