Down With OPP (Offensive Pervasive Playlists): Music as Sexual Harassment

July 27, 2023 | From HRCalifornia Extra

by Michelle Galbraith, J.D.; Employment Law Expert, CalChamber

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their sex. One of the ways employees can demonstrate a violation of Title VII is by showing that discrimination based on sex led to the creation of a hostile work environment. Often, an employee does this by presenting evidence of frequent unwelcome conduct such as touching, sexual comments and slurs, or exposure to pornographic images.  

In a new case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that employees may be able to support a hostile work environment claim by presenting evidence of regular exposure to violent, misogynistic music — even when the music’s message isn’t directed to a particular individual but is broadly offensive to both men and women (Sharp, et al. v. S&S Activewear, D.C., No.3:20-cv-00654-MMD-CLB (June 7, 2023).

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