Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique sued Netflix Inc., accusing the streaming giant of racial and gender discrimination by making her a lowball offer for a one-hour, standup show and refusing to negotiate a fair deal.
Mo’nique, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in the 2009 movie “Precious,” says Netflix offered her US$500,000 for a comedy special in 2017, which she claims is a fraction of the US$20 million per show it pays male comedians, including Ricky Gervais and Chris Rock, or white, female comedians, such as Ellen DeGeneres.
“While the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to Netflix’s content budget, estimated at US$19 billion in 2019, there apparently is a ceiling when it comes to Netflix’s willingness to pay talent of certain demographics, namely, black women,” she said in her lawsuit.
The comedian, whose legal name is Monique Hicks, filed the complaint Thursday in Los Angeles, claiming Netflix maintains a corporate culture that is insensitive to black workers and that is plagued by a lack of diversity among its senior leadership. She seeks unspecified damages for discrimination and retaliation, among other claims.
Netflix, she alleges, refused to engage in any negotiation and presented its offer on “take-it-or-leave-it” terms.
”We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously,” Netflix said in a statement. “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair -- which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”
The streaming service made headlines last year when it was disclosed that Claire Foy, the actress who played the lead role of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” was payed US$14,000 less per episode than Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip in the same TV series. Netflix is believed that have later paid Foy US$275,000 to make up the difference, according to today’s lawsuit.
The case is Hicks v. Netflix, 19STCV40934, California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles (Los Angeles).