#MeToo, Time’s Up, and Theories of Justice

54 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2018 Last revised: 20 Mar 2018

See all articles by Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler

University of Illinois College of Law

Jennifer K. Robbennolt

University of Illinois College of Law

Colleen Murphy

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: March 6, 2018

Abstract

Allegations against movie-mogul Harvey Weinstein and the ensuing #MeToo movement opened the floodgates to a modern day reckoning with sex discrimination in the workplace. High level and high profile individuals across industries have been fired, suspended, and resigned. At the same time, serious concerns have been raised about useful processes for non-privileged women, due process for those accused of misconduct, and the need for proportionate consequences. And there have been calls for both restorative and transitional justice in addressing this problem. But these calls have not been explicit about what sort of restoration or transformation is envisioned.

This article explores the meaning, utility, and complexities of restorative and transitional justice for dealing with sexual misconduct in the workplace. We begin by documenting the restorative origins of #MeToo as well as exploring steps taken, most prominently by Time’s Up, to amplify and credit survivors’ voices, seek accountability, change workplace practices, and encourage access to the legal system. We then take up the call for restorative justice by exploring its key components — including acknowledgement, responsibility-taking, harm repair, non-repetition, and reintegration — with an eye toward how these components might apply in the context of addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

We conclude by looking more broadly to the insights of transitional justice. We identify some shared features of transitional societies and the #MeToo setting, including structural inequalities, a history of denial and the normalization of wrongful behavior, and uncertainty about the way forward. We then provide guidance for ongoing reform efforts. First, we emphasize the vital importance of including and addressing the interests of marginalized groups within the larger movement both because we need to know and acknowledge specific intersectional harms and also because doing so helps model the kinds of equal relationships that marginalized groups seek across other dimensions such as race, sexual orientation, gender orientation, and disability. Second, we highlight the need for holism and mixed types of responses in trying to spur societal change.

Suggested Citation

Wexler, Lesley M. and Robbennolt, Jennifer K. and Murphy, Colleen, #MeToo, Time’s Up, and Theories of Justice (March 6, 2018). University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3135442 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3135442

Lesley M. Wexler

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Jennifer K. Robbennolt (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-6623 (Phone)

Colleen Murphy

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

College of Law
504 East Pennsylvania Ave
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.las.illinois.edu/colleenm

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