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The American Bar Association has adopted a new Resolution about the policies and procedures for all employers, including legal employers, to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Resolution 302 became an official policy of the ABA on February 5, at its 2018 Midyear Meeting, where it was passed unanimously by the ABA House of Delegates. The Resolution urges all employers to adopt and enforce policies to “prohibit, prevent, and promptly redress” harassment and retaliation based on “gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and the intersection of sex with race and/or ethnicity.” It also sets forth basic elements of employer policies again sexual harassment, how to address claims of sexual harassment, the need for investigation and disciplinary actions as appropriate, and the value of training with innovative programs to prevent sexual harassment.
The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, chaired by Stephanie Scharf, was the principal sponsor of the Resolution, which was also supported by a wide array of ABA groups and affiliate bar associations. In introducing the Resolution to the House of Delegates, Ms. Scharf remarked, “There can hardly be a resolution more timely” and observed that sexual harassment not only impacts individual lawyers by “driving them away from work they enjoy and that they are eminently qualified to perform,” it also impacts an employer’s ability to retain talented women lawyers and achieve an inclusive workplace. Scharf continued, “The time is now. Today it is not enough to say, ‘yes, we know that.’ We need to do more. We here are in a unique position to act now to set the standards and urge employers to put these basic policies and procedures into place to eliminate sexual harassment.”
The Resolution was passed by an overwhelming voice vote, and cheers and applause broke out as its passage was announced.