Court rules you can't swear like a trucker in trucking office
debaron at uiuc.edu
Wed May 7 20:59:15 UTC 2008
There's a new post on the Web of Language: Court rules you can't
swear like a trucker in trucking office
Swearing at work may be good for morale, but according to the
Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, if you want to swear
like a trucker, you’d better not do it while working for a trucking
Last week an appeals court panel ruled that an employee lawsuit
against the transportation company C. H. Robinson Worldwide could go
forward because “language and radio programming that are particularly
offensive to women” create a “hostile work environment.” According to
the court, even if the offending language doesn’t target the
plaintiff, its persistent use violates Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964.
Ingrid Reeves sued the shipping company she worked for because her
male co-workers used sexually explicit language on a daily basis, the
kind of language that would make a sailor blush. They also tuned the
office radio to a morning program featuring explicit sexual comments,
and when Reeves changed the station because it made her
uncomfortable, the men in the office changed it back.
The lower court acknowledged that the work environment at CHRW may
have been unprofessional, but since both men and women were subjected
to the continual foul and sexually-explicit language, there had been
no sex-based discrimination, and so it dismissed Reeves’ suit.
But the appeals court disagreed, noting a parallel between racially-
and sexually-offensive speech: just as previous rulings have found
that racial epithets have a disproportionately negative effect on
members of the targeted racial group even if they’re not directed at
the individual who finds them offensive, the words Reeves called into
question . . . were “more degrading to women than men.” ...
read the rest on The Web of Language
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
read the Web of Language:
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