Much like in other industries, law firms are not immune to sexual harassment. Unfortunately, law-firm management can be reluctant to discipline partners who are accused of sexual harassment especially if they generate big revenue for the firm. Many times, harassers are in powerful positions making it unlikely that the harassment will be reported and even less likely that, when reported, harassers will be punished. However, even when partners are let go by a firm because of reports of harassment, hiring firms rarely ask partners for references in job interviews. This makes it all too easy for high performers to simply pick up where they left off at a new firm after they are let go for sexual harassment.
Too often when these executives are given second and third chances, they continue harassing behavior. In some cases, perpetrators feel emboldened and untouchable, and their behavior escalates. In order to create an environment in which victims feel they can report harassing behavior, it is as important as ever for industries to take a serious no tolerance approach to sexual harassment in the workplace. A recent Wall Street Journal article addressed the issues caused by firms’ continued failure to punish harassers and properly vet new partners before hiring them.