Working for Justice

Speedy Ortiz FTW

Posted September 15th, 2015 by in Gender Discrimination and Harassment.

Punk rock has long been associated with raw energy and disenfranchised white, male youth. However, over the years women and minorities have come to identify with punk rock themes like exclusion from mainstream society, poverty, and life on the fringes. Despite feeling a connection to the music, women, and minorities have long complained of rampant sexism and racism within the punk community, particularly at live shows. Recently, however, at least one band is attempting to make a change.

As they take off for their 2015 world tour, indie-punk band Speedy Ortiz is taking a stand against harassment and intolerance at their shows. The band posted the following message on their Facebook page last week:

“Harassment and intolerance will not be permitted at tonight’s show or at other Speedy Ortiz shows. Prejudicial, aggressive language and aggressive behaviors of any kind are unacceptable to us. This includes, but is not limited to, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, & all other oppressive and marginalizing actions and microaggressions.”

To support this initiative, the band recently created a hotline to help fans deal with harassment and intolerance at their shows. Fans can text 574-404-SAFE or email speedyortizhotline@gmail.com, and the band will “work with venue security to try and get you out of harm’s way.” Lead singer Sadie Dupuis said that she decided to create the hotline after she went to a show and experienced harassment on three separate occasions within the span of an hour and a half and realized she had no means of recourse.

While anti-discrimination measures are a new, and largely discretionary, measure in the world of punk rock music, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has long prohibited discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion gender, or national origin. Sexual harassment has been prohibited under Title VII since the 1970s. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees seeking to make use of company complaint mechanisms.

If you have questions about Title VII and its applicability to your current work situation, please do not hesitate to contact Sanford Heisler. We’re working to make the workplace as safe and inclusive an environment as a Speedy Ortiz show.

John McKnight

John McKnight

John McKnight is a Senior Litigation Counsel in the Washington, DC office of Sanford Heisler Sharp who works primarily on qui tam / whistleblower cases. Learn More

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