Raunchy music at work isn’t just potentially offensive—it could be against the law, a U.S. appeals court said.Playing derogatory music in the workplace could violate laws against sexual discrimination, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said Wednesday in a groundbreaking decision. The ruling allows warehouse workers to sue their employer over the playing of tunes that the workers called misogynistic from rapper Eminem and other artists.“Whether sung, shouted or whispered, blasted over speakers or relayed face-to-face, sexist epithets can offend and may transform a workplace into a hostile environment,” the court said.The ruling from the San Francisco-based court, whose jurisdiction covers much of the western U.S., joins past court decisions that have put employers on notice about where impoliteness in the workplace crosses into the unlawful.The decision revives a 2020 case against S&S Activewear, a clothing distributor for popular brands such as Adidas and American Apparel, whose supervisors allegedly rebuffed complaints from both women and men in a Reno, Nev., facility about music with sexually charged lyrics.S&S, Adidas and American Apparel didn’t respond to requests for comment.Hip-hop songs are “rife with misogynistic terms,” said Mark Mausert, a lawyer for the workers. “These songs often cause workers, usually men, to segue into other forms of sexual harassment.”The eight employees who brought the suit—seven women and one man—complained that their colleagues were allowed to routinely play rap music that denigrates women. One such song mentioned in the suit glorified prostitution, while another, Eminem’s “Stan,” describes a woman’s murder. A publicist for Eminem didn’t respond to a request for comment.The employees behind the suit complained of music blaring through commercial-strength speakers, in some cases placed on forklifts and driven around, which they said acted as a catalyst for abusive behavior. Male employees pantomimed graphic gestures, made explicit remarks and openly shared pornography, the employees said. In the face of near daily complaints, S&S management said the music was motivational and refused to silence it, the employees said in the lawsuit.The Ninth Circuit in its ruling said that the music could constitute “actionable, auditory harassment.” The court also rejected an argument that the music wasn’t sexist because it also offended men. The decision puts the case back in the hands of a trial judge for additional proceedings.Though the court’s decision Wednesday was a relatively rare instance of crossover between musical tastes and discrimination law in the workplace, courts have previously weighed in on the suitability of radio shows played aloud at work. The Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit federal appeals court ruled in 2010 that an office playing a “crude morning show” could be sued. Other federal courts have allowed to proceed lawsuits over offensive graffiti and employees using misogynistic language.“Employers have long focused on inappropriate comments and images in the workplace, and the Ninth Circuit decision serves as notice that they must also be mindful of music employees play at work,” said Kevin White, co-chair of the labor and employment team at law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with protecting workers from discrimination, urged the court to allow the lawsuit to proceed. The agency cautioned that it was concerned with the “uniquely violent, misogynistic and sexually offensive music” at the center of the case, rather than vilifying any one musical genre.