Can Rap Music Create a Hostile Work Environment?

By Kris Janisch
Published Nov. 22, 2022

Can Rap Music Create a Hostile Work Environment?

An employee filed a suit against her employer, claiming a sexually hostile work environment that included misogynistic rap music.

Can rap music create a hostile work environment?

A female employee in Nevada filed a suit in U.S. District Court alleging that she was subject to a sexually hostile work environment because of “obscene and misogynistic rap music” played by fellow employees, as well as the “actions and statements of employees who responded to the rap music.”

The suit also claims a coworker made sexual remarks to toward her, stalked her and touched her inappropriately.

Can Rap Music Create a Hostile Work?

The woman who filed the suit is now a former employee.

She said she went to human resources about the rap music — which included graphic sexual references and pejorative terms for women — as well as the alleged actions of her coworker.

But those concerns went unheeded, she claims, and managers also overheard the music but did not address it. The suit alleges company officials “implicitly repudiated the written sexual harassment policy which it claimed to have in force.”

She said she was eventually forced her to quit her job, with the workplace conditions being the reason.

While inappropriate sexual behavior is a clear violation of any company policy, the case does introduce an interesting consideration for certain environments. What is an employer’s obligation for the music that is played in a group atmosphere while employees are working?

Interestingly, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is also taking up a similar case. A lower court ruled that the plaintiffs could not claim sex discrimination because the music was offensive to both men and women, and employees of both genders filed the suit.


In the #MeToo era, sexual harassment suits are never to be taken lightly. And the situation in Nevada illustrates the pitfalls large employers can face. Music at a worksite is commonplace. Do location managers need to keep an ear on the music selections?

Of course, not all rap music is created equal. But employers may want to consider the role music in the workplace could play regarding potential litigation.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

GovDocs Minimum Wage

Keep Informed
with GovDocs Employment Law News

Employment Law Compliance LinkedIn Group

Who is GovDocs?

GovDocs simplifies employment law compliance for large, multi-jurisdiction employers in the U.S. and Canada. The GovDocs software platform integrates three solutions in one convenient place to help you master the employment laws impacting your business. Whether you manage a postings, minimum wage or paid leave program, our products cut through research time, provide proactive insights into the everchanging landscape of employment laws and reduce the risk of noncompliance. The company is headquartered in Eagan, Minn.

Have fewer than 30 locations? 

The GovDocs Poster Store simplifies posting compliance for employers with less than 30 locations across all industries, offering a variety of posting products to meet your labor law compliance needs.