Some judges are exceedingly difficult. Judge Lynn Hughes in Houston seems to consistently press folks’ buttons. Most recently, he has barred a female Assistant U.S. Attorney from his court. Tina Ansari has appeared in Judge Hughes’ court twice in the past few weeks. She was excused from the court by Judge Hughes both times right after she announced her name for the court reporter. Meaning right after saying hello, the judge told her to leave. The U.S. Attorney himself then appeared before Judge Hughes and insisted he must assign prosecutors, not the Judge. The Judge then insisted he had been slighted in an appeal regarding Judge Hughes a few years ago.

A few years ago, the U.S. Attorney appealed a ruling by the Judge and mentioned his remarks about women. In those remarks, the Judge had apparently said in the old days, they did not allow “girls” to practice law in the courtroom. His remark could have been interpreted in a couple of different ways. In any event, Judge Hughes took offense at how his remark was mentioned by the US Attorney’s Office. See Houston Chronicle report here.

These issues seem to follow Judge Hughes. Litigation is difficult enough. To be fair, in every lawsuit, we work with people. And, the judge is human, after all. … Judge Hughes, it seems, is more human than many of his peers.

Is there sexism in the work place? You bet. Look at the report at CBS news about women in the technology business. Several women published a manifesto calling for change. See CBS news report. The female techies say they have been pranked (porn left on their computer screen when they leave their work station), attended meetings which became attempted dates, and treated to derogatory, sexist emails by their male co-workers. See their manifesto here. The women include workers at Adobe Systems, Mozilla, BuzzFeed, Kickstarter, and Stripe. 

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, says she has heard the excuses for not hiring more women in the technology industry. One executive said he would like to hire more women but his wife fears he would sleep with them and, he added, he probably would. 

All I can say is the technology industry will learn its lesson the hard way…..

The female administrator who sent some bawdy emals has resigned.  Donna Laird, the former radiography director for St. Phillip’s College quit after an investigation into her sexist, racist and raunchy emails.  See San Antonio Express News report.  I previously discussed her emails and the EEOC complaint by Warren Parker here.  Mr. Parker was supervisied by Ms. Laird.  He received, he says, hundreds of Ms. Laird’s emails.  He claimed sex based discrimination when he was denied tenure.  

But, the St. Phillip’s investigation found that the emails depicted negative stereotypes of many groups and were sent to men and women, suggesting a lack of bias.  The investigation also indicated that Mr. Parker used some of the emails as "ice breakers" during his classes and his private business seminars.  

Mr. Parker has already been terminated due to his having taken a sick day to do some work on his side business, teaching radiography.  Rebecca Sanchez, former chairwoman of the allied health department has also resigned.  She received many of Ms. Laird’s emails and did not object to them, found the investigation. 

Note the issues here.  Racist, sexist emails are never good.  But, if you send them to all genders, all races, the suggestion is a lack of bias.  This is a complicated, risky defense.  But, in theory, a supervisor can escape charges of discrimination if the supervisor is mean to all races and both genders.  ….  Still, the safer approach is just avoid sending racist, sexist emails.  Ms. Laird says she sent the emails to reduce stress at work.  Now, she has ample opportunity to reduce work related stress.