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Netflix Settles Mo’Nique’s Racial and Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Over Pay Dispute

Netflix has settled a lawsuit Mo'Nique filed against the streamer alleging a discriminatory salary offer for her shelved stand-up special.

Mo'Nique arrives at Universal's "Almost Christmas" Los Angeles Premiere held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, CA on Thursday, November 3, 2016. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***


Sthanlee Mirador/Sipa USA

Oscar-winner Mo’Nique has settled a lawsuit filed against Netflix that alleged a gender and racial bias when it came to her stand-up salary.

The “Precious” actress filed the suit against Netflix in November 2019 about a shelved comedy special and the subsequent professional fallout of her pay dispute.

“Netflix courted Mo’Nique, saw what she had to offer and made her an offer,” Mo’Nique’s attorneys from the deRubertis Law Firm and Schimmel & Parks stated in a multi-claim complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court, as reported by Deadline. “But the offer Netflix made Mo’Nique wreaked of discrimination; it perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women.”

Mo’Nique sued Netflix for the $500,000 salary offer back in 2017, with her lawyers saying, “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 suit continued: “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. In response, Netflix did the opposite. It dug its heels in the ground, refused to negotiate fairly and stood behind its discriminatory offer. 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. 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.”

The suit sought to “bring fair and non-discriminatory pay to Mo’Nique and stop Netflix’s discriminatory practices going forward.” Netflix has now settled for an undetermined cost.

The streamer filed two motions to throw out the discrimination lawsuit. In 2020, Judge Andre Birotte Jr. issued that Mo’Nique, real name Monique Hicks, plausibly alleged that Netflix was “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.

“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.

A spokesperson for Netflix previously said in 2019 that the company cares “deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously,” before stating, “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”

Netflix is currently embroiled in an ongoing shareholder lawsuit with claims that the streamer misled investors about subscriber loss, resulting in Netflix stock (NFLX) sinking by roughly 25 percent — or down about $85 — per share following the Q1 announcement last month. The streamer has additionally laid off more than 150 employees.

Mo’Nique executive-produced the 2020 special “Mo’Nique & Friends: Live from Atlanta” and is set to make her return to acting after a six-year hiatus in the upcoming series “BMF” about 1980s Detroit. She is also slated to appear in the horror film “The Reading” and “Precious” director Lee Daniels’ “Demon House” alongside Glenn Close, Octavia Spencer, and Rob Morgan.

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