Access to Justice: Reducing the Implicit Pushback Burden on Working-Class Pro Se Plaintiffs in Employment Law Cases
This Note applies social identity threat literature to the legal context in order to improve access to justice. Social identity threat literature indicates that stereotypes, associations, and similar methods center environments on particular identities. Social identity threat occurs when an individual who does not have the centered identity enters the environment, implicitly perceives marginalization, and thereby experiences psycho-physiological effects that burden engagement. Social identity threat, as it applies to litigants of marginalized identities inside the courtroom, is termed the “implicit pushback burden” because the social identity threat implicitly repels or pushes the individual back from the courtroom and its proceedings. While this burden may limit access to justice for people of various identities, this Note explains how it affects working-class pro se plaintiffs in employment law cases. The limited amount of literature concerning social identity threat as it applies to the legal context and the working-class identity makes drawing solutions difficult. Still, this Note provides an overview of solutions outlined in the most relevant literature, and suggests how those solutions may be applied in the courtroom.