The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a good decision on a sex harassment case. Reeves v. CH Robinson Worldwide. The latest version is an en banc decision overruling the result by an earlier 11th Circuit three judge panel. An en banc decision means all the judges of the Court participated in this decision, not just the original three judges who rendered the first decision.
The decision addresses the issue regarding the use of certain derogatory terms for women. Is the use of the term "bitch" inherently discriminatory toward women? The Court found that use of that term could indicate prejudice toward women depending on the context in which it was used. Note that not all circuits agree with this finding. The 7th Circuit, for example, has found that use of the term "bitch" is not necessarily targeted toward gender. But, the Reeves court found that use of the terms "bitch" or "slut" would inherently be more demeaning toward women. I think most people would agree, lawyers or non-lawyers.
The Reeves court further found that in this case, even if the men do sometimes use terms such as "bitch" and "whore" toward men, using such terms toward men does not make them less offensive toward women. "It is undeniable that the terms "bitch" and "whore" have gender specific meanings. Calling a man "bitch" belittles him specifically because it belittles women," said the Court. Duh. Its only amazing that such an issue must be appealed this far up before a judge can apply some common sense. Yes, indeed, the background and life experiences of a judge do make a critical difference in many cases.
The 11th Circuit also found that slurs directed at women in general could serve as evidence of prejudice toward a specific woman, thus joining the 2d, 4th, and 7th Circuits. So, the en banc decision overturns the prior three judge panel decision in this same case. It is, for once a good decision in favor of the employee.