Deputy Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker Speaks About Civil Rights at the Women's Forum Networking Event
Written by Grace C. Wu, APABA-DC Women's Forum
On July 10, 2007, the Women's Forum held a Networking Event, featuring guest speaker Grace Chung Becker, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, at the law firm of Baker & Hostetler. Over 30 attendees, including attorneys, law students, and pre-law students, mingled with each other and learned about Ms. Becker's inspirational work and career path. Ms. Becker told the attendees that it was an "exciting" time to work in the Civil Rights Division because the Attorney General made civil rights a top priority within the Department of Justice. She mentioned that the Division just celebrated its 50th anniversary, recounted the Division's progress since its inception, and emphasized that the mission of the Division has remained the same throughout the years -- to enforce civil rights statutes and support the foundation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Becker informed the attendees that the cases brought by the Division have increased substantially in the last few years and that the civil rights issues have progressed from racial discrimination to human trafficking. She reminded everyone that these types of discrimination did not have any boundaries and could occur anywhere, at anytime, and in any place. For example, Ms. Becker recounted the case of a Korean-American man who was charged and convicted for ordering the beatings of female garment factory workers in American Samoa. The Korean-American man kept the women compliant through prior beatings, hunger, and general threat of harm. Other human trafficking cases brought by the Division include ones in which defendants are charged with rape and/or sexual harassment.
In addition to cases involving human trafficking, Ms. Becker mentioned that the Division has prosecuted sexual predators under the Fair Housing Act. She highlighted several cases in which landlords or maintenance workers, who usually had keys to the apartments, subjected female tenants to sexual harassment and evicted those who rejected their sexual advances. In one of the cases, the compensatory and punitive damages totaled $1.1 million, which is the largest thus far by a case brought under the Fair Housing Act. The Division has also prosecuted individuals under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Ms. Becker told the attendees about a case in which a Vice President of a bank subjected women to harassment by making sexual comments, by touching inappropriately, and by requesting sexual favors. Ms. Becker ended her speech by telling the audience that the Division is committed to fighting discrimination at all levels.
Thanks go to Phong Nguyen, Kaye Williams, and the law firm of Baker & Hostetler for hosting the event.
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