The wave of fighting back against sexual assault and harassment continues on.
Tchen, who is also a partner at Buckley Sandler LLP, told Bloomberg that the real solution lies in addressing the structural barriers that keep women and minorities from being protected when revealing their experiences.
“When people were first coming forward with their stories, they were getting threatened with legal action,” said Tchen. “And the fastest way to make sure that someone isn’t getting bullied by a lawyer for someone rich and powerful is to make sure that person has a lawyer, too.”
So, what exactly are the barriers?
An NPR report found that judges often dismiss sexual harassment cases because of the high standards for providing evidence. The report also found that only an estimated three to six percent of those cases ever actually make it to trial.
“What you have to prove is that somebody is acting with intention, so that’s a much higher standard,” said Laura Beth Nielsen, a research professor at Northwestern University and the American Bar Foundation.
In addition, Pew Research found that 51 percent of over 6,000 adults surveyed believed an increased focus on sexual harassment wouldn’t make much of a difference in the workplace.
“Everything that we’ve seen on the ‘Me Too’ hashtag suggests that there’s a lot of pent-up fury out there, and more of these women I think are going to seek legal recourse and attorneys in this social climate are going to think they’re more likely to win and get substantial damages,” said Deborah Rhode, director of Stanford’s Center on the Legal Profession. “Often times it takes a kind of cultural consciousness raising moments to force a reevaluation of standards.”
If aggressors see that similar actions have gone largely unreprimanded, what do they have to fear? The fact of the matter is that victims of sexual harassment and assault need a safe space that they can trust. TULDF can be a vehicle that provides that safety and support. It can be a catalyst for justice in an area that has largely failed victims of sexual harassment.
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