Oscar-winning actress and comedian Mo’Nique is currently suing streaming behemoth Netflix for gender and race discrimination.
On Thursday, the actress filed the lawsuit and accused the company of offering her astronomically less than what the streaming service has paid other comedians for a proposed special, as BuzzFeed reports.
Mo’Nique alleged that two years ago, the $500,000 for an hourlong stand-up special that Netflix offered her, compared to millions that were paid to other comedians, “perpetuated the pay gap suffered by black women.”
According to Lean In, a site that advocates for equity in the workforce, black women are paid 61 cents for every dollar paid to white men on average.
“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.”
BuzzFeed was told by a spokesperson for Netflix that 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.”
Mo’Nique had previously made headlines when she revealed the qualms that she had with Netflix’s “lowball offer that was only a fraction of what Netflix paid other (non-black female) comedians.”
When the news broke, Mo’Nique mentioned fellow comedian Amy Schumer to point out the gap in the amount of compensation that Netflix offered.
For 2017’s The Leather Special, Schumer was initially offered $11 million, but after learning what Netflix paid comedians Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, Schumer and her representatives inquired about higher pay, and Netflix obliged. Rock and Chapelle both received reportedly $20million each.
Mo’Nique was thanked by comedian Wanda Sykes for using her voice. Sykes claimed that 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. Mo’Nique also said that Netflix blacklisted her in retaliation for speaking her truth.
The actress took to Instagram to announce that she had filed the lawsuit.
“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.”