Take Care of Yourself Without Rewarding Bad Behavior

I was consulting with a lawyer whose supervising attorney was being a tyrant to her because she was a woman. It was one of those situations where you just know he would not have talked to a man the way he was talking to her, but he wasn’t outright calling her “baby doll” or anything like that. Instead, he was questioning every answer she gave him, criticizing her for lacking confidence, and saying behind her back that he wasn’t sure why but she just wasn’t ready for major responsibility.

We talked one day when she was particularly upset and she was thinking about quitting her job. She said she didn’t need to continue to take someone undermining her at every turn.

(As I’m telling you this story, I realize that I’m actually mixing up three different stories with different clients because I have been having this conversation so often recently.)

What she said was completely true. She did not need to continue to tolerate anything she didn’t like. But, the issue I take with this thinking, as my clients’ advocate, is that quitting almost always punishes the woman experiencing the harassment and rewards the man doing the harassing. I understand that my client’s supervising attorney had invested money in her by hiring her, but losing that investment is not nearly as impactful to him as her losing her source of income.