More than a year after alleging gender and racial bias by Netflix, Mo’Nique is finally suing the streaming giant for discrimination. The lawsuit accuses them of attempting to underpay her so drastically for a stand-up special that it constituted a “biased, discriminatory offer.”
According to the suit, Mo’Nique was offered $500,000 to star in a one-hour standup special, a paltry sum compared to the multi-million-dollar deals offered to other comedians like Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, and Dave Chappelle.
Mo’Nique originally called for a boycott of Netflix in January 2018 when she first opened up about the pay inequality. After all, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle were each offered $20 million for their own comedy specials, and Amy Schumer was offered $11 million. When Schumer learned of her own pay discrepancy, she negotiated for two more million. When Mo’Nique tried to negotiate, Netflix balked and “stood behind its discriminatory offer.”
Unfortunately, not everyone has been supportive of Mo’Nique’s fight for equal pay. In an appearance on Steve Harvey’s talk show earlier this year, Steve merely chalked up her concerns to “rich people problems.” Others have called her crusade “extreme.”
But this pay discrepancy goes far beyond “rich people problems.” In fact, as the suit notes, “it perpetuates the pay gap suffered by black women.” Black women continue to make 61¢ for every dollar that their white, male counterparts earn. And this pay gap for black women “cuts across the economic spectrum, affecting low paid workers and highly compensated ones alike.”
Mo’Nique is a legend in her own right but has continually been shut out of Hollywood. She’s the first black female comedian to have a residency in Las Vegas, a published author, and has become a comedy icon. She even won an Oscar for her role in the 2009 movie Precious. Yet, after a disagreement with director Lee Daniels, Mo’Nique has been “blackballed” in Hollywood and has only appeared in a handful of films.
Despite her innumerable accomplishments, Mo’Nique has always had to work harder and be louder, constantly having to elbow her way through Hollywood in a manner that no white man or woman of similar caliber has had to do. Mo’Nique deserves more than $500,000. She deserves to feel like she has an equal footing in an industry where she has more than earned her place.
For its part, Netflix is disputing the lawsuit. A Netflix spokesperson told NBC News,
“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.”
Mo’Nique, too, released a statement of her own, taking to Instagram to confirm the lawsuit’s existence. She wrote,
“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.”
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Feature photo: The View / YouTube
Michelle Vincent is a project manager and freelance writer. She enjoys traveling, is worried she won’t love her future children as much as she loves her dogs, and is actively recruiting podcast recommendations.