I’ve been a longtime fan of the USA network TV show Suits – it’s set at a (fictional) law firm in New York, Pearson Hardman, and focuses on the exploits of a witty college dropout who has never been to law school and the firm partner who had the audacity to hire him as an associate. Last Thursday night’s episode featured Pearson Hardman taking on a class action lawsuit accusing a fictional company, Folsom Foods, of gender discrimination: they failed to promote qualified women. One of the lawyers on the case noticed that when women were denied for promotions, the company used the following descriptors to justify the choice: “high-strung,” “sensitive,” “aggressive,” and “abrasive.” These women were being passed over for promotions for reasons unrelated to their performance or their ability to fulfill their job responsibilities – but rather due to stereotypes about women in the workplace.
While the company may be fictional, this storyline is far from it for many women, who find that their opportunities in the workplace are limited by these pervasive – and harmful – stereotypes. Women lose out on jobs, promotions and equal pay: and they deserve better.
The class action lawsuit on Suits is moving far quicker than these do in real life – keep in mind that it took three years just for a judge to certify the class in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, a recent gender discrimination class action suit – but that just means we’ll know the outcome much sooner! Tune into Suits next Thursday at 10 p.m. EST on USA to see what we’ll discover next about Folsom Foods. I know I’ll be watching: I’m on the edge of my seat about Rachel’s application to Harvard Law.