William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Abusive speech often is used effectively by harassers in the workplace to intimidate, terrorize, objectify, and humiliate their intended victims, thus helping to secure and maintain social inequality in the workforce, especially among racial and gender minority employees. Pursuant to the adoption of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States Supreme Court, in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, interpreted the statute's anti-employment discrimination mandate as imposing liability for conduct or words in the workplace that have the purpose or effect of interfering with an employee's work performance or of creating an intimidating or hostile work environment. This Article argues that in order to rectify and prevent socio-economic inequality often imposed by employers and co-workers through hateful harmful words, speech that creates a hostile or abusive work environment should be subject to specific speech injunctions that are restricted to the workplace. Such prohibitions on the workplace use of specific words and phrases found to contribute significantly to the creation of an abusive environment are justified by the remedial requirements of Title VII and, thus, would offer the best remedy when used as a preventative and reparative tool to address both future and past abuse.