Music can be a distraction while you work. But not every song your employees love comes from The Sound of Music. An employer’s obligation to protect the workplace from harassment includes paying attention to what music employees are exposed to while at work.
monster speaker, monster problem
Stephanie Sharp worked at the S&S Activewear warehouse in Reno, Nevada. The facility was huge, about 700,000 square feet. S&S allowed managers and employees to play music inside the warehouse. Employers say the music softened the noise around them and boosted employee motivation. It was streamed from commercial speakers installed throughout the workplace. In some cases, employees put speakers in forklifts and drove them around the workplace, “making it even more difficult to anticipate, let alone avoid, the music arriving.”
Sharpe argued that much of the music was sexually graphic, demeaning women, and depicted extreme violence against women. Examples included songs from rappers Eminem and Too his shorts. Sharp said the music “provided abusive behavior by male employees, who frequently pantomime sexually graphic gestures, shout obscene language, and make sexually explicit remarks.” , and openly shared pornographic videos.” Despite repeated complaints from employees, S&S took no action, defending the music as “motivating”. Ultimately, Sharpe and seven of her colleagues (six women and one man) sued S&S for creating and maintaining a sexual harassment workplace in violation of Part 7.
Aggressive melody and Title VII
Part 7 requires employers to maintain workplaces free of sexual harassment and to take steps to eradicate sexually hostile or abusive behavior. To be illegal, the act for which the complaint is made must be more than a one-off or isolated incident of hers. Aggressive behavior must be serious or widespread. Courts across the country have found that music in the workplace can reach levels of illegal sexual harassment if the lyrics are gender-specific and offensive enough.
S&S argued that the music did not support the allegations of sexual harassment because it was played indiscriminately throughout the warehouse and was not targeted to specific employees. The court dismissed the allegation, stating that “repeated and prolonged exposure to sexually profane and abusive music pollutes the workplace and may violate Title VII, making broader litigation possible.” It falls under hearing harassment.”
S&S’ claims of “equal opportunity harassers” also came under fire. S&S noted that both men and women were offended and complained about music in the workplace. (Recall that one of the eight named plaintiffs in this case was a man.) The courts ruled that employers should seek sexual harassment liability by creating and maintaining an unpleasant, harassing, and intolerable workplace for all employees. was held to be unavoidable. A jury will now determine whether an employer has violated Title VII by giving managers and employees freedom to choose music.
listen to music
We all know that employers must monitor and enforce their workplaces to ensure they are free of harassment, and if they become aware of such harassment, they must take action to end it. We understand that we must act immediately. These same responsibilities apply to the music played by managers and employees in the workplace.
- Sharp et al vs. S&S Activewear, LLCNo.21-17138(9)th Sir. 6/7/23)