Professor Ellen Berrey outlines the myths of employment discrimination litigation in article featured in the American Bar Association Journal

November 9, 2017 by Kathy Tang

Professor Ellen Berrey recently co-authored an article featured in the American Bar Association Journal. The article explores the research and findings from Professor Berrey's latest book, Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality. Professor Berrey is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities at the UTM campus. Her research specializes on law and society. The article appeared in the November 2017 issue of the ABA Journal.

We have posted an excerpt below.

10 myths show the harsh realities of employment civil rights litigation


...On the surface, America’s commitment to equal opportunity in the workplace has never been clearer. Virtually every company has anti-discrimination policies in place, and there are laws designed to protect these rights across a range of marginalized groups.

But our examination of nearly 1,800 civil rights cases and interviews with parties and their lawyers shows that this progressive vision of the law falls far short in practice. When aggrieved individuals turn to the law, the adversarial character of litigation imposes considerable personal and financial costs that make plaintiffs feel like they’ve lost regardless of the outcome of the case. Employer defendants also are dissatisfied with the system, often feeling “held up” by what they see as frivolous cases. And even when the case is resolved in the plaintiff’s favor, the conditions that gave rise to the lawsuit rarely change.

In fact, the contemporary approach to workplace discrimination law perversely reinforces the very hierarchies that anti-discrimination laws were created to redress...

In our book, Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality, we offer a comprehensive analysis of the system of employment civil rights litigation, using both statistical data from a large random sample of cases and in-depth interviews with plaintiffs, plaintiffs lawyers, defendant employers and defense lawyers about their experiences with and perspectives on discrimination lawsuits...

Read the full article here.