The Oscar-winning actress has begun the long battle against the streaming giant in order to address systemic racial and gender pay gaps.
Comedian and Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique has filed a lawsuit against streaming giant Netflix for gender and racial discrimination, which she revealed in an official statement posted on Instagram. Allegedly, Netflix takes advantage of gender and racial pay gaps that disproportionately affect women of color, in particular, Black women. When the actress discovered that she was offered much lower deals than her male and/or White counterparts, she decided to let the law take its course. At present, the streaming platform has affirmed its commitment to inclusion and diversity and will thus be fighting the lawsuit, Fox News reports.
Mo'Nique is formally accusing Netflix of attempting to underpay her in the year 2017 for her stand-up special. She has argued that several other stars and comedians received much higher pay-outs than she did for similar work. The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, November 14, is an attempt to tackle systemic racism and sexism within the media industry. Mo’Nique’s lawyer Michael Parks stated in an official press release, "Netflix is one of Hollywood’s most innovative companies, yet it not only perpetuates racial and gender inequality, it also takes advantage of a gender pay gap that disproportionately affects black women, who nationwide make only 61 cents for every dollar white males bring home. When Mo’Nique, one of the most well-known black female comedians in America, faced that anachronistic attitude, she knew it was time to challenge the status quo."
Reportedly, Mo'Nique, who first gained fame as a member of the Queens Of Comedy, was offered only $500,000 though "other white male or female and black male comedians received deals at or above $20 million per comedy special," Parks revealed. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Netflix paid Amy Schumer $13 million for an hourlong special in 2017 (this was after negotiating with her from their initial offer of $11 million). Meanwhile, Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais were both offered $40 million each for two specials in 2016, Dave Chapelle was handed $60 million for three specials in the same year, and Jerry Seinfeld was paid $100 million for two specials as well as his interview series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Without a doubt, these values display the pervasive issue of the gender and racial pay gap.
The lawsuit adds that "when Mo’Nique spoke up against what she believed was a discriminatory offer, Netflix responded retaliatorily by refusing to negotiate in good faith with her." David M. deRubertis, who also represents, affirmed in the same press release, "In recent years, the spotlight has appropriately shined on the gender pay inequities that continue to plague the American workforce. By this lawsuit, Mo’Nique is taking a stand against the most severe pay gap of all: the pay gap experienced by black women in the American workforce." Mo'Nique herself addressed the lawsuit in a post uploaded to Instagram. "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." Though Netflix has been touted as the leading production house of progressive media, unlike its TV counterparts, it appears that perhaps the streaming giant, too, has fallen into the systemic traps of its traditional predecessors.