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behavior of Mr. Rock *928 that was patently degrading to women was at least sufficient
to have a jury consider whether the ambient workplace atmosphere was severe or
pervasive, both from a subjective and objective point of view. See Gallagher v. C.H.
Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 567 F.3d 263 (6th Cir.2009).
 Finally, there is the fifth element-that there is a basis for holding the employer
liable. Appliance Direct properly underscores one of the perceived fundamental
weaknesses in Ms. Blizzard's case; that the remarks and actions of her supervisor were
not specifically directed to her. Ms. Blizzard posits, on the other hand, that her evidence
demonstrated how pervasive the harassment was, and how she was essentially swept up
in its backwash. Thus, we are faced with the knotty question of whether harassment in the
form of offensive language can be “based on” Ms. Blizzard's membership in a protected
group, even when she was not the target of the language, and even though other
employees were equally exposed to it.
Fortunately, we have the benefit of the case of Jennings, which answers this very
question.FN1 We note that this case was not brought to the attention of the trial judge at
the time that he directed the verdict. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth 281 Circuit examined the issue that currently confronts us in light of a number of race
discrimination cases, such as Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179 (4th
Cir.2001). Spriggs held that racially offensive language need not necessarily be targeted
at the plaintiff in order to support a claim of hostile workplace environment. We find
ourselves in agreement with the Jennings holding, particularly where, as here, the
offensive conduct was by the employee's supervisor. Cf., Abeita v. TransAmerica
Mailings, Inc., 159 F.3d 246, 252 (6th Cir.1998).
FN1. We also take note of the case of Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 525
F.3d 1139, 1145 (11th Cir.2008), reh'g en banc granted, vacated by 56...
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- Spring '08