Mo’Nique, Netflix Settle Gender & Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Over Pay For Comedy Special – Update

June 15, 2022

2ND UPDATE, 9:45 AM: Mo’Nique and Netflix have settled the lawsuit she filed against the streaming company in 2019 claiming racial and gender bias, Deadline has confirmed. Details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Read about the case below.

UPDATED, July 2, 2020: Subscribers and revenues may be up for Netflix, but a federal  judge has denied the streamer’s second motion to throw out Mo’Nique’s racial and gender bias lawsuit against the now Ted Sarandos co-CEO’d company.

The comic and Precious Oscar winner, real name Monique Hicks, says the $500,000 she was first offered by Netflix in 2017 for a stand-up special was not just an insult but illegal. Her  gender and racial discrimination filing of last November over pay for a potential comedy special cites the tens of millions reportedly paid to the likes of Amy Schumer, Ricky Gervais, Ellen DeGeneres and Dave Chappelle for their Netflix specials.

The 2019 suit also alleges that “Netflix’s treatment of Mo’Nique began with a discriminatory low-ball offer and ended with a blacklisting act of retaliation.”

In rejecting the streamer’s motion to dismiss, Judge Andre Birotte Jr. said yesterday, “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” (Read the full ruling here).

“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,” the U.S. District Court judge added in a slap to the streamer.

Last month, lawyers for both sides argued the motion in a COVID-19 induced telephone hearing before Judge Birotte. Read further details below of this case that clearly isn’t going way for Netflix – unless they settle.

PREVIOUSLY, November 16, 2019: As the streaming wars heat up, Netflix now faces some very serious allegations of institutional racial and sex discrimination from Mo’Nique over a comedy special that never happened and the fallout that followed.

“Netflix courted Mo’Nique, saw what she had to offer and made her an offer,” lawyers for the Oscar winner declared Thursday in a multi-claim complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court (read it here). “But the offer Netflix made Mo’Nique wreaked [sic] of discrimination; it perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women.”

At the heart of the 10-claim and jury-seeking document is Mo’Nique’s contention that the $500,000 the Reed Hastings-run streamer 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.

“Mo’Nique objected to Netflix’s discriminatory pay offer, pointed out how it was discriminatory and asked Netflix to do the right thing by negotiating fair pay with her,” asserts the widespread damages-seeking 39-page filing. “In response, Netflix did the opposite.”

“It dug its heels in the ground, refused to negotiate fairly and stood behind its discriminatory offer,” claim Mo’Nique’s attorneys at The deRubertis Law Firm and Schimmel & Parks. “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,” they add in what is a pretty clear reference to Amy Schumer “In short, as this lawsuit shows, Netflix’s treatment of Mo’Nique began with a discriminatory low-ball offer and ended with a blacklisting act of retaliation.”

As is to further prove the point, the filing lists off the tens of millions that the likes of returning Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais, Ellen DeGeneres and Dave Chappelle supposedly raked in for their Netflix specials.

“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 says. With names named and photos included of a “complete lack of racial diversity” management team of Hastings, Ted Sarandos, Jessica Neal and more in the lawsuit, Netflix wasn’t giving any ground in their response to the long time critic

“We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously,” said a spokesperson for the streamer on Thursday. “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”

Emmy nominee, late-night host and Queen of Comedy headliner Mo’Nique, on the other hand, took to social media to give her POV:

A post shared by Mo'nique (@therealmoworldwide)

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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