Litigating Sexual Harassment Cases

Guest Contributor: Sandra F. Sperino

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Professor Sandra Sperino. Image from UC Law’s Website.

The #metoo movement has increased the focus on sexual harassment cases and how courts analyze them. One way to increase the reach of harassment law is hidden in plain sight: the text of Title VII itself.

Title VII, the federal law that prohibits harassment based on race, sex, and other protected traits, has two main provisions.  Under Title VII’s first provision, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to do the following:

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

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Who Are Those Living In Homelessness in Cincinnati?

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buddy gray, the founder of the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

Hamilton County, Ohio, home of Cincinnati, is seeking to ban homeless camps from its county. Its District Attorney argues that the homeless must go into shelters or leave the county.
I spent about twenty months as a live-in, full-time volunteer in a homeless shelter, which was an opportunity that brought me to Cincinnati in the summer of 2014. During that time, I lived as a Catholic Worker, a movement founded by Dorothy Day in the 1930s whose proponents devote their lives to fighting injustice, poverty, and violence. My time there informed my understanding of the plight of those living in homelessness and who it is that makes up that population.

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Grace Place, the homeless shelter in Cincinnati’s College Hill neighborhood where the author served for about two years.

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Nowhere to Sleep: The Homelessness Problem in Cincinnati

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Image from Cincinnati Enquirer

This past month has been quite eventful for individuals who once called home a particular area in downtown Cincinnati – a group stricken by homelessness.

The downtown area that a group called home was under a cluster of overpasses at Third and Plum Streets. The group – comprised of around 50 individuals – set up a tent encampment under the overpass where they had slept for months, or maybe even years. The area, which is close to several parking lots used by people working downtown, housed the tent camp; hundreds of individuals passed by and through the area every day to get to and from work.

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The Sex Talk: Campus Sexual Assault Project

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Image from Cincinnati Enquirer

Starting Sunday August 5, Kate Murphy and Meg Vogel’s project called The Sex Talk video series will be published by The Cincinnati Enquirer and USA Today. The video series focuses on the conversation that is not happening about campus sexual assault.

The Sex Talk comprises of ten videos that look at the epidemic of campus sexual assault in a new way by creating an honest digital conversation with people who are on the front lines and different sides of the issue.

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Gays, Bans, and Unions: The Supreme Court’s Eventful Summer

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

2018.06.04_SCOTUS_Rally,_Masterpiece_Cake_Case,_Washington,_DC_USA_02750_(41662234545)The Summer of 2018 gave Americans unpredictable weather, new celebrity romances, and, of course, a lot of Supreme Court decisions. After months of waiting, the Supreme Court released three opinions that will greatly effect American History. These are the major cases that caught American’s attention: Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Trump v, Hawaii, and Janus v. American Federation of State County, and Municipal Employees.

The Supreme Court of the United States in Masterpiece v. Colorado ruled 7-2 in favor of the Colorado Baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. However, the Court made a narrow decision leaving room open for a larger question: whether businesses can discriminate against gay individuals based on the rights protected in the First Amendment.

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RBG: A Must See For Every Civil Rights Advocate

Monica Welker (’19)

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I ask no favors for my sex. . . All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks. – Sarah Moore Grimké, American abolitionist and suffragette.

 

At the beginning of RBG, a documentary of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she recounts the time that she famously used this quote during an oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States. As Justice Ginsburg reflects on her use of the words, and repeats them, she reveals a sly, satisfied smile.

I am a fan of documentaries and Ginsburg, so seeing RBG was high on my summer to-do list. I took an afternoon and headed over to the Esquire to watch it.

If one has made a point of drinking in every interview and piece on Ginsburg that one can, as I have, one notices that about half of the documentary is made up of these already published interviews. There is the footage of her being interviewed by Nina Totenberg, footage of her workout routine, and interviews of her talking about the time she famously dozed off during the State of the Union.

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Psychological Harms of Microaggressions

Nikita Srivastava (’19) 

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Nikita Srivastava (’19) demonstrating how to give a cross-examination at the University of Dayton.

Everyone will have different experiences while working over the summer. Some may find the work load difficult or easy. Some may find the law frustrating or rewarding. At some point, all law school students will experience these feelings, however not everyone will experience the same work environment.  Some students will experience microaggressions.

Microaggressions are brief and commonplace — daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities and invalidations, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults to the target person or group or “outsiders”. “Outsiders” are individuals who do not come from the dominant culture. They are women, people of color, and the LGBQT community.  Usually, the “well-intentioned” people are the microaggressors–they are the ones who actively say and/or believe they are not racist, sexist, or homophobic; however, their actions or expressions say otherwise.

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