Netflix: Comedian Mo'Nique Hits Streamer With Racial and Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Comedian Mo'Nique filed a discrimination suit against Netflix on Thursday, alleging that the streaming service broke the law when it gave her a lowball offer for a comedy special that never happened. Lawyers for the Oscar winner, whose real name is Monique Hicks, said that "Netflix courted Mo'Nique, saw what she had to offer and made her an offer ... but the offer Netflix made Mo'Nique wreaked (sic) of discrimination; it perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women."

The suit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, accuses Netflix of a lack of diversity in its senior leadership ranks, and a history of insensitivity to black people. The suit also cites figures stating that black people make up only 6 percent of the Netflix workforce, as of 2019.

"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," said Michael W. Parks, Mo’Nique’s attorney, in a statement, as reported by Variety. "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."

At the heart of the legal document is Mo'Nique's contention that the $500,000 the streaming giant offered her back in 2017 for a special was not just an insult, but 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, Deadline reports.

The claim says that at the time, Mo'Nique pointed out the discriminatory nature of the offer and asked Netflix to negotiate fair pay with her, but that the streamer "did the opposite," and "stood behind its discriminatory offer."

"In stark contrast, when a white female comedian objected to her offer (given how much lower it was than comparable males), Netflix reconsidered and upped her offer," it added, clearly referencing Amy Schumer.

In 2018, Mo'Nique called for a boycott of Netflix, saying she had been offered just $500,000 for a special, while Schumer was offered $11 million and Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock were offered $20 million.

"The pay gap produces real, tangible, and stark consequences," the suit states. "Black women have less money to support themselves and their families, less money to save and invest for the future, and less money to spend on goods and services."

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Netflix said in a statement Thursday that "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."

Photo credit: Albert L. Ortega / Contributor / Getty

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