Oscar-winning actor Mo’Nique filed a lawsuit against Netflix on Thursday, accusing the streaming service of gender and racial discrimination for offering her far less than what it paid other comedians for a proposed special.
The star has alleged that Netflix's offer of $500,000 for an hourlong stand-up special two years ago, compared to the millions paid to other comedians, “perpetuated the pay gap suffered by black women.”
Black women are typically paid 61 cents for every dollar paid to white men, according to Lean In, a site that campaigns for more equitable workplaces.
“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,” the lawsuit states. “In response, Netflix did the opposite. It dug its heels in the ground, refused to negotiate fairly and stood behind its discriminatory offer.”
A spokesperson for Netflix told BuzzFeed the company plans to fight the lawsuit.
"We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We believe our opening offer to Mo'Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”
The longtime comedian and actor made headlines when she aired issues she had with the Netflix's “lowball offer that was only a fraction of what Netflix paid other (non-black female) comedians."
At the time, Mo’Nique invoked fellow comedian Amy Schumer to highlight the gap in pay Netflix offered.
Schumer was initially offered $11 million for 2017’s The Leather Special, but upon finding out the amount of money the company shelled out for comics Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle — reportedly $20 million each — Schumer and her team asked for more money, and the company obliged.
Comedian Wanda Sykes thanked Mo’Nique for speaking out, saying Netflix offered her even less.
“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,” Mo’Nique’s lawsuit states. She also claims Netflix blacklisted her in retaliation for her speaking out.
Mo’Nique issued a statement about the lawsuit via her Instagram.
“I had a choice to make: 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," she wrote. "I chose to stand up.”
In addition to Mo’Nique’s personal claims of discrimination, the lawsuit also calls out the streaming service for its lack of diversity among senior leadership, a former executive’s “repeated used of the ‘n-word,’” and the company’s purported treatment of women executives versus their male counterparts.
Read the entire lawsuit here: