Inside a Nevada clothing warehouse, a song describing a woman’s murder blasted from commercial-strength speakers, as did other musical selections glorifying abuse and denigrating women, a lawsuit alleged.
The rap music would often overpower the 700,000-square-foot S&S Activewear facility in Reno — and helped foster an environment rife with discrimination and harassment, according to the suit, which was filed in 2020 by eight former employees, including seven women and one man.
That lawsuit was initially tossed out in December 2021 by a lower court, which argued that, since the music offended both men and women, it “did not constitute discrimination because of sex.” Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected that notion — ruling that “an employer cannot find safe haven by embracing intolerable, harassing conduct that pervades the workplace,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in a court opinion.***
According to the lawsuit, the blaring music was “inescapable” inside the Reno warehouse, where at least five speakers were often driven around on forklifts. The employees alleged that they were subjected to songs by Eminem and Too Short that they said glorified violence against women, for instance describing a young girl dying after a graphic instance of sexual violence.***
But it wasn’t just the music that was offensive, the suit alleged — it was also the behavior it inspired in male employees, who allegedly shared pornographic videos, made sexual remarks, yelled obscenities and pantomimed sexual intercourse while the songs played.