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Race, gender, and place: How judicial identity and local context shape anti‐discrimination decisions

Law & Society Review

Published online on


["Law & Society Review, Volume 56, Issue 2, Page 188-212, June 2022. ", "\nAbstract\nWhile federal anti‐employment discrimination laws have helped diminish inequality at work, discrimination persists, in part perhaps due to unequal handling of equal employment lawsuits. Prior research demonstrates that the definition of discrimination can vary based on local normative ideas, while another line shows that a judge's race or gender can shape how related lawsuits are handled. In this article, I draw on a set of EEOC workplace discrimination cases prosecuted in Federal Court and combine it with locality data, to analyze: (1) the impact of local context, specifically rurality, local political context, and southerness and; (2) how judges' race and gender interact with the local cultural‐milieu. Findings reveal that plaintiffs of colour in race discrimination cases fair worse in rural courts or before white judges. Meanwhile, white judges in conservative areas are more defendant friendly than those outside the in more liberal areas. Black judges, in comparison, are more plaintiff friendly in conservative areas when compared to black judges in more liberal areas. While female judges are generally more plaintiff friendly than male judges in sex cases, location has no discernible effect.\n"]