Oscar winning actress and comedian Mo’Nique, has filed a sex and race discrimination lawsuit against Netflix.
Mo’Nique allegedly complained to the streaming giant that the $500,000 they offered her for a comedy special in 2017 was discriminatory on the basis of her race and gender. Moreover, Mo’Nique further alleges that after she complained Netflix refused to renegotiate with her and instead retaliated against her by blacklisting the comedian.
In the complaint filed, Mo’Nique’s attorneys from The deRubertis Law Firm and Schimmel & Parks state that “the offer Netflix made Mo’Monique wreaked of discrimination; it perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women” and that “Netflix’s business practice of paying Black women less than non-Black women for substantially equal or similar work causes harm to Plaintiff that outweighs any reason Netflix may have for doing so.”
To demonstrate the double standards when it comes to race, MoNique’s complaint heavily referenced the deal Netflix made to white comedian Amy Schumer. Shumer also objected to the initial offer Netflix made to her, as it was much lower in comparison to that of male comedians. However, for Schumer, Netflix decided to continue their negotiations and upped Schumer’s offer to $13 million. The complaint also makes reference to the amounts of money Netflix has offered male comedians like the $16 million offered to Jeff Dunham and the $60 million offered to Dave Chapelle.
In a hearing just last month, conducted over the phone due to COVID-19, Mo’Nique’s and Netflix’s lawyers argued before Judge Andre Birrote Jr over the alleged discrimination and retaliation.
Recently, the federal judge has come to deny Netflix’s second motion to throw out Mo’Nique’s lawsuit against them. Specifically, Judge Birrote goes on to say that “Mo’Nique plausibly alleges that, after she spoke out and called her initial offer discriminatory, Netflix retaliated against her by shutting down its standard practice of negotiating in good faith that typically results in increased monetary compensation beyond the the ‘opening offer’ and denying her increased compensation as a result”
The attorney’s representing Mo’Nique have commented that their motivation in taking on Mo’Nique’s case was also influenced by the importance in highlighting the gender pay gap. According to the National Women’s Law Center, Black women earn 61 cents for every dollar a white man earn. This inequality ultimately leads to a lifetime loss of more than $2 million.
Monique’s complaint addressed the pay gap Black women face saying “The pay gap for Black women cuts across the economic spectrum affecting low-paid workers and highly compensated ones alike. Unfortunately, for Mo’Nique and many other women of color, their challenges when speaking up about pay gap inequality are all the greater because they are met with skepticism, not empathy, when they ask for more money.”
In a statement posted on Mo’Nique’s Instagram, the comedian addresses the lawsuit saying, “I can confirm that today I filed a pay discrimination lawsuit against Netflix. I had a choice to make: I could accept what I felt was pay discrimination or I could stand up for those who came before me and those who will come after me. I chose to stand up. I don’t have any further comment at this time, but I appreciate all of your support and love.”
A spokesperson for Netflix has also spoken out about the lawsuits stating “We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously. We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair – which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”
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