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.
The comedian — whose legal name is Monique Hicks — accused Netflix of race and sex discrimination. In January 2018, Mo’Nique called for a boycott of Netflix, saying she had been offered just $500,000 for a special, while Amy Schumer was offered $11 million and Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock were offered $20 million.
The suit 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% 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. “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.”
The suit lays out an argument that Netflix’s pay practices reflect pay disparities in society at large.
“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.”
Netflix declined to comment on Mo’Nique’s allegations when they were first raised in 2018, saying the service does not comment on contract negotiations.
In a statement on Thursday, the streamer said: “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.”