Charlotte Fishman is a San Francisco-based expert in the field of gender discrimination in the workplace. She is a nationally recognized leader of the plaintiffs' employment law bar for her work developing legal strategies to ferret out and combat discrimination based on stereotyping and implicit bias. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) and is a cofounder, editor and Co-Chair of CELA VOICE, the blog of the California Employment Lawyers Association. CELA VOICE is a source of readable opinion pieces on breaking news developments in employment law and trending workplace issues.
Her writing draws on over 30 years of experience as a civil rights attorney working on behalf of plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, as a woman in the workplace and as a mother of two girls. A graduate of Barnard College and the Harvard Law School, she has represented individuals from diverse backgrounds, ranging from undocumented immigrants to women denied tenure at major universities. From 1983-86 she served as a staff attorney for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, handling cutting edge cases involving issues of race, physical handicap and gender. In 1986 she founded a plaintiff-side employment law firm, focusing on the representation of women in glass ceiling discrimination cases.
In 2001 she joined Equal Rights Advocates as Director of its Higher Education Legal Advocacy Project. The mission of this three-year project, funded by the Ford Foundation, was to identify continuing barriers to the success of women in academia and to develop strategies to overcome them. During the life of the project Ms. Fishman convened a national meeting of academics to identify issues, produced a report Creating Gender Equity in Academia, and litigated cases on behalf of women in academia. During this time, she developed an innovative approach to handling glass ceiling and stereotype discrimination cases.
Pick Up the Pace
In 2005, Ms. Fishman founded Pick Up the Pace in order to continue her groundbreaking work incorporating cognitive bias principles into the analysis and legal response to discrimination. At Pick Up the Pace, she embarked upon an ambitious program of educating the legal profession, women in academia and the general public about how implicit bias (also known as subtle bias, hidden bias, unconscious bias), cognitive bias and stereotype bias operate to create the "glass ceiling" for women. Her pioneering work has enabled lawyers and academics to identify behaviors that demonstrate these types of bias, and to use that knowledge to overcome discrimination in the workplace.
Pick Up the Pace has participated in friend of the court briefs filed in cases pending before the United States Supreme Court (Burlington Northern v. White; Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire; AT&T v. Hulteen), the California Supreme Court (Yanowitz v. L’Oreal; Reid v. Google; Harris v. City of Santa Monica), and federal courts of appeal (Doe v. Obermas).
In addition, Pick Up the Pace has co-sponsored conferences addressing these cutting edge issues with the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Hastings Center for Worklife Law, the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco Employment Law Center and the Impact Fund. Ms. Fishman has presented at conferences put on by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the California Employment Lawyers Association, the State Bar of California Labor and Employment Law Section, Women in Astronomy and Swissnex, among others.
Ms. Fishman's writing on employment issues ranges from popular opinion pieces in national and local media (Common Dreams, Women's eNews, Workplace Fairness, Women in Higher Education, Academe, Inside Higher Ed, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Daily Journal) to scholarly articles (Hastings Law Journal, Proceedings of the Institute for Women's Policy Research) to appellate advocacy before the United States Supreme Court. Selected writings on work family conflict, the legal paradigm of discrimination and other cutting edge topics appear on the “commentary” and “advocacy” pages of this website.