An employer that allowed rap music with sexually explicit and violent lyrics to be played loudly in its office faces a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by eight former employees. San Francisco Chronicle report. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled Wednesday 3-0 to overturn a motion to dismiss by Chief District Judge Miranda Doe.
S&S Activewear allowed employees to install powerful speakers throughout a 700,000-square-foot warehouse in Reno, Nevada, according to the complaint. These speakers allegedly played rap songs that plaintiffs determined were “sexually graphic.” [and] It’s violently misogynistic. The songs mentioned in the lawsuit are Too Short’s ‘Blowjob Betty’ and Eminem’s ‘Stan’.
Justice M. Margaret McCune said in her ruling that plaintiffs simply could not avoid music. “Employees would sometimes put the speakers on forklifts and drive them around the warehouse, making it even more difficult to predict, let alone avoid, the reach of the music,” according to the complaint. For two years, S&S employees had filed complaints “almost every day.”
Judge McCune added that the music may have triggered an unsafe work environment.[T]His music is said to have been a catalyst for abusive behavior by male employees, who frequently pantomime sexually graphic gestures, shout obscene language, and make sexually explicit remarks. or publicly shared pornographic videos. S&S allegedly called the explicit music “motivating” before banning it in 2020.
Justice McCune said, “Sexist adjectives, whether sung, shouted, whispered, played on loudspeakers, or broadcast face-to-face, are offensive to all genders and make the workplace a hostile environment. That could change,” he said.
In a statement, plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Morsert said the court’s decision was logical. “All lawyers in the country who handle employment cases should remember to ask if there is dirty music playing in the workplace,” he said in his email. “If such music is played loudly and frequently in front of management and employees are offended by it, liability can easily be held.”