Robinson vs Jacksonville Shipyards Analysis

Robinson vs Jacksonville Shipyards Analysis

In the yesteryears, sexual misconducts in the work environments among the women were rampant, and the incidents would several times go unaddressed. Even though there were avenues where the victims could seek redress, it was not clear whether non-targeted behavior would constitute harassment as provided by Title VII until Robinson vs. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. case in 1991. The court held that the non-target act accounts to sexual harassment provided that it depicts the discrimination of one gender more than the other. Facts

The plaintiff, Robinson sued her employer, Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. The plaintiff asserted that the defendant encouraged a sexually work environment. The plaintiff claims centered on the pictures of the nude women that showed different sexual submissive poses as well the comments by the male supervisors and employees that demeaned women. The defendants, on the other hand, disputed the plaintiff’s allegations by arguing that to some extent the workplace might have been hostile, but they were not liable. The plaintiff further asserted that he reported the sexual harassment incidents to the employer, but nothing was done to end the mistreatment. She, therefore, brought a case against the employer citing the violation of her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 1991). The plaintiff claimed that the defendants sexually harassed her since she endured some of the sexual harassment comments and jokes. The court established that the plaintiff issue was actionable under the concept of disparate impact.

The concept of Disparate Impact in the Case

Disparate impact applies if the employer portrays neutral practice that from the general perspective applies to all workers, but it is harmful or disrespectful to particular members and also lacks business jurisdiction (Horton, 1991, p. 417). Robinson can prove the existence of disparate impact by arguing that the sexual harassment showed to the women by the male supervisors and employees in the workplace portrays discrimination of one group more than the other, and therefore, it cannot be treated as a business necessity. Although the phonographic materials in the workplace did directly target the plaintiff, she can as well argue that the display of nude women was discriminative under the concept of disparate impact. The non-target sexual harassment behavior was actionable because it demeaned and unequally offended one sex more than the other and in this case women working in the defendant’s place.Court Conclusion

The court assessed whether the allegations brought by the plaintiff against the male coworkers and the employer were true. The plaintiff argued that some sexual harassment comments like male workers asking her to sit on their laps, some male employees talking bad about working with women and offending language on the walls within workplace environment amounted to sexual harassment. Even though the evidence showed some sexual harassment acts directly targeted the plaintiff, it was not enough to sentence the defendant. The court then looked at the non-targeted evidence like pictures of nude women that suggestively depicted sexual submissiveness. First, the court acknowledged that the phonographic pictures on the walls never targeted women in the workplace because they had been mounted when women were not working for the defendant. However, the court found that continued keeping of the nude women pictures even after employing women contributed to the discrimination and therefore, the defendant was guilty under the concept of disparate impact.

The disparate impact concept holds that a non-targeted sexual harassment behavior is executable if it appears to demean or offend one sex more than the other. The phonographic pictures demeaned the women, and this explains why the male coworkers made sexual harassment comments and jokes towards Robinson. Based on the non-targeted evidence, the court found the nude women pictures were discriminatory and offensive since they portrayed “a disproportionately demeaning impact on the women now working at Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc.” (Timmons, 2003, p. 1233). The court acknowledged that “pictures of nude and partially nude women” posted throughout the workplace constitute sexual harassment” (Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 1991).Type of Situations Qualifying as Sexual Harassment

Even though the court relied on the non-targeted evidence to rule in favor of the plaintiff, the targeted conduct of the defendants also served as the sexual harassment. The target behavior that counted towards the sexual harassment comprised of the male co-workers telling Robinson to sit on their laps, male workers demeaning women by telling them how it was offensive to work with them and reporting the incidents to employers without any action being taken to combat them. The non-targeted acts of the plaintiff that amounted to the sexual harassment consisted of consistent and extensive pictures demonstrating naked women, and photographs of partially nude females. The court held that the non-target behavior of the employer depicted discrimination against women and therefore, it qualified as sexual harassment since it applied unreasonably discriminated one sex, women, more than the males in the same workplace environment.


Robinson vs. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. marked an important milestone in fighting sexual misconducts in the workplaces. The employees whose sexual rights have been violated do not need to provide direct evidence since the court held that also non-target gender discriminatory actions amounted to harassment.

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