The comic Mo'Nique, real name Monique Hicks, filed a gender and racial discrimination lawsuit against Netflix after the streaming platform offered her $500,000 in 2017 for a possible stand-up special. She pointed to the tens of millions reportedly paid to Amy Schumer, Ricky Gervais, Ellen DeGeneres, and Dave Chappelle for their Netflix specials. According to the suit, the Precious Oscar winner was unfairly treated by Netflix and blacklisted as retaliation.
Judge Birotte Jr. rejected Netflix's motion to dismiss in 2020, saying, "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 'opening offer' and denying her increased compensation as a result. "While Netflix argues that the novelty of Mo'Nique's claim and the absence of on-point legal authority for it should bar her retaliation claims outright, the Court disagrees," added the U.S. District Court judge.
"Netflix courted Mo'Nique, saw what she had to offer, and made her an offer," lawyers for the comedian stated in a 2019 complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court. "But the offer Netflix made Mo'Nique wreaked [sic] of discrimination; it perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women."
The document included Mo'Nique's claim that the $500,000 the Reed Hastings-run streaming service offered her for a special in 2017 was both insulting and illegal. "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," the jury seeking complaint states.
Apparently, Netflix did reconsider and upped the offer of a white female comic when her offer was objected to (due to how much lower it was than comparable male offers), they added, citing Amy Schumer. "This lawsuit seeks to correct these wrongs, bring fair and non-discriminatory pay to Mo'Nique and stop Netflix's discriminatory practices going forward," the action said.
A spokesperson for Netflix rebuffed the allegations, responding, "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."