"It was time to challenge the status quo."

By Christopher Luu
Nov 14, 2019 @ 9:15 pm

Netflix is being heralded as a firebrand in the entertainment world, but comedian Mo'Nique is calling out the streaming giant for its decidedly old-school views on equal pay. According to Variety, she is taking legal action towards Netflix because she was only offered $500,000 for a stand-up special. The suit alleges that Amy Schumer was offered $11 million and Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock were offered $20 million for similar jobs.

The suit also points out Netflix's lack of diversity in its senior leadership ranks and history of insensitivity to Black people. Documents submitted to the Los Angeles County Courthouse today also cite figures stating that, as of 2019, Black people make up 6% of Netflix's workforce. Mo'Nique (full name Monique Angela Hicks) and her legal team also state that Netflix's pay disparity reflects the current state of income disparity in the wider workforce. 

Robin Marchant/Getty Images

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"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."

Mo'Nique's lawyer, Michael W. Parks, adds that his client is one of the most well-known entertainers in America and is using her situation as a platform to bring more attention to the inequality that she and other women and people of color are facing when they're negotiating their contracts and taking on jobs.

"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," Parks said 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."

Mo'Nique first brought the inequity to light back in 2018, but she's waited until now to move forward with legal action.

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"[Schumer] said, 'I shouldn't get what the men are getting, because they’re legends, but I should get more,' and Netflix agreed," she said at the time. "When we asked Netflix to explain the difference, why the money was so different, they said, 'Well, we believe that's what Mo'Nique will bring. We said, 'What about my résumé?' They said, 'We don’t go off of résumés.'"

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