On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, Reuters reported that the Judicial Conference of the United States, the federal judiciary’s policymaking body, agreed to administer regular workplace surveys to its employees to determine how widespread sexual harassment, discrimination, and other misconduct are in courts around the country.
The policymaking body’s action came in response to calls from lawmakers and court reform advocates for the judiciary to take further measures to safeguard its employees in the wake of claims of sexual harassment and other misconduct by some judges.
After the Judicial Conference’s semi-annual closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, the outgoing chair of the Judicial Conference’s executive committee, told reporters that the survey will explain “the prevalence of certain kinds of conduct.”
Eagan said that judges, managers, and employees will be questioned about their overall workplace environment, the courts’ commitment to diversity, the frequency of any forms of discriminatory harassment, and “any other inappropriate or abusive behavior.” Eagan added that the Federal Judicial Center, the judiciary’s research arm, will administer the survey, which can be used to assess workplace conditions and reforms. Whether the results of the confidential survey would be made public “remains to be seen.”
According to Reuters, a working group suggested a similar survey in March at U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ request after claims of sexual harassment against certain judges surfaced in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Reuters concluded that:
“The survey was the latest measure aimed at improving the workplace recommended by the working group that the judiciary has implemented in the last four years.
But while the judiciary has taken steps to reform how misconduct complaints are handled, Roberts and other officials have resisted efforts by Congress to legislate in the area, citing judicial independence.
The judiciary is opposing a bill called the Judiciary Accountability Act that would extend to judicial employees statutory rights against discrimination and workplace sexual harassment that other federal employees enjoy.”
Full story here.