Juries, Race, and Gender: A Story of Today's Inequality

32 Pages Posted: 27 May 2011

See all articles by Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Date Written: 2011


The Civil Rights Act of 1991 was supposed to be a victory for employment discrimination plaintiffs – a dramatic expansion of their rights. Twenty years later, however, we are told that the news for employment discrimination plaintiffs has gone “from bad to worse.” This essay, a reflection on the twenty-year history of the 1991 Act, explores how just how bad it is. In doing so, this essay discovers some optimistic news (but not much): Plaintiffs today are more likely to win at trial than before the 1991 Act. This is likely because of the 1991 Act’s expanded right to a jury trial. Yet, this is not a story of optimism – or equality – for all plaintiffs. The essay’s original study of 102 jury trials reveals that some plaintiffs do much worse than other plaintiffs. African Americans and Latinos claiming race discrimination, for example, have the lowest jury win rates. Many who study jury behavior would have predicted this outcome. From this, the essay argues that the evidence is strong that the status quo is not race neutral, and neither are juries.

Suggested Citation

Parker, Wendy, Juries, Race, and Gender: A Story of Today's Inequality (2011). Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 46, pp. 209-240, 2011, Wake Forest Univ. Legal Studies Paper No. 1851465, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1851465

Wendy Parker (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

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