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Ingrid Reeves V. CH. Robinson Worldwide Inc.

Institutional Affiliation


Analysis of the Case and the Case Elements

Ingrid Reeves, a transportation sales representative, worked for C.H. Robinson
Worldwide from July 2001 until she resigned in March 2004. She was not the only female
employee of C.H. Robinson's Birmingham, Ala. office, but she was the only female in her
"workstation pod."
According to Reeves, she was exposed to sexually offensive, derogatory language
regarding women, sexually explicit radio programming and sexual jokes on a daily basis. On one
occasion she was exposed to a pornographic image of a woman on a co-worker's computer. Her
complaints and communication that such behavior made her uncomfortable failed to improve her
situation, and one employee instructed her to wear earplugs if she did not like their jokes.
The 11th Circuit's reversal of the lower court's ruling was based on its finding that
harassment need not be directed at a plaintiff in order to constitute a hostile work environment.
The male co-worker's daily discussions of such topics as celebrity breast sizes, masturbation,
erotic dreams, ejaculation, sexual favors and bikini contests humiliated Reeves. Although the
conduct was not physically threatening, the court held the language and radio programming
created offensive, uncomfortable conditions for Reeves.
The main factors involved in the reversal are that the conduct occurred on a daily basis
and interfered with her job performance. As the U.S. Supreme Court found in Harris, 510 U.S. at
23, 114 S. Ct. at 371, the court found that the behavior "need not have tangibly affected the
plaintiff's job performance in order to be actionable." Reeves testified that her co-workers'
conduct caused her to leave her pod and stand in the hallway, and forced her to take time away


from work to complain to her superiors. Furthermore, she had trouble concentrating in such an
environment ( Korn L. 2008).
Her co-workers insistently used sexually agitating and offensive expressions and
encounters, referring to other woman besides Reeves. Her immediate supervisor used extremely
offensive language referring to woman in a very offensive and sexual demeaner towards female
clients and workers. There was also a degree of intentional offensiveness to the daily broadcast
on the radio station chosen by the male workers, which had sexually offensive themes. .
Although she complained to her co-workers about the offensive language, the supervisor, and the
management team took no action to alleviate the stressful and hostile atmosphere.
In the matter of Reeves' case, the court did validate the main components in this issue
were that the behavior of the co-workers was based on her sex and that it was serious or
damaging. Under Title VII the court agreed that the co-workers behavior was not what normally
comes to mind when considering inappropriate behavior The court did however determine that
Reeves recounting of the facts were convincing enough for a jury to rule in her favor. The
Eleventh Circuit Court agreed that sex-particular dialect can still fulfill a based on rule
prerequisite, notwithstanding, when it is not directed directly at the offended party. Moreover, the
eleventh Circuit held that a sensible jury could find that the behavior Reeves was offended by
was serious or pervasive in nature
The court ruled that in such a hostile working environment, the most important issue, is
whether the members of one gender are to be subjected to disadvantageous terms or the offensive
conditions set by an employer while the members of a different group are not subjected.
Therefore, the issue at hand was whether the conditions in the CH. Robinson Inc. created a
hostile working environment that resulted in a hostile and threatening work environment to


which the woman were exposed to. Severity and perverseness is sufficient to establish a violation
of the Title VII doctrine
Possible Liability if the Sexual Harasser Were an Independent Contractor versus an
According to Fremling & Posner, Title VII of the bill of civil rights protects all employed
individuals against work based discrimination of a sexual nature. The legal wording makes it
clear that the action is valid only for legally employed and not neither independent contractors
nor consultants. Title VII does not apply to freelancers. In general, independent contractors are
not covered under the laws concerning workplace discrimination. However, it important to get
clear the difference between an independent contractor and an employee. The labor laws usually
look at it from how many the individual in question controls over the employee. Notably, the
employers have a duty to maintain workplaces that are free of sexual harassment to employees of
either gender (Fremling & Posner, 2011).
According to Solotoff, & Kramer, If the employer is aware that an employee or
independent contractor is sexually harassing their companys employees, the employer may be
held liable for failure to protect the employees against such behavior, and may be treated as
negligence. (Solotoff, & Kramer, 2014). Any employee, customers, independent contractor or
client can be victoms of sexual harassment or can be the perpitraitors of sexual harassment in the
organization. In any case where the employer could be held liable for a third party independent
contractors actions in the workplace if they do nothing to rectify the situation.



Korn, L. (2008, Jul 31). Commentary: Harassment environmental when work ability affected.
Daily Record Retrieved from
Fremling, G., & Posner, R. (2011). Status Signaling and the Law, with Particular Application to
Sexual Harassment. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.165177
Solotoff,, L., & Kramer, H. (2014). Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Work
Place. New York: Law Journal Press.