Judge allows Mo’Nique’s discrimination lawsuit against Netflix to proceed
A California judge has given Mo’Nique the ok to proceed with her racial and gender bias lawsuit against Netflix.
The comedian and “Precious” Oscar winner, whose real name is Monique Hicks, claimed the $500,000 she was first offered by Netflix in 2017 for a stand-up special was not just an insult but also illegal.
Mo’Nique’s reps pleaded with Netflix to reconsider a “racially and gender biased offer” and asked, “What makes Mo’Nique, who has been labeled a living legend based on her awards from around the world worth $12,500,000 less than Amy Schumer to [Netflix]?” according to the suit.
The suit filed in California state court in November likewise cites the tens of millions of dollars reportedly paid to the likes of Ricky Gervais, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle for their Netflix specials.
When Mo’Nique refused the low-ball offer, Netflix did not counter or keep negotiating, a standard practice, according to the suit. Instead, the streaming giant “retaliated” against her by killing the deal and “blacklisting” the comedian, the suit claims.
Netflix argued that retaliation claim was “nonsensical” because its opening offer was “fair” and the comedian’s case would set a legal precedent, tried to get the case thrown out. But US District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. rejected their motion on Thursday.
“Mo’Nique plausibly alleges that, after she spoke out and called her initial offer discriminatory, Netflix retaliated against her by 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,” the judge wrote.
The decision referenced the claims that Schumer, a white comedian, was able to get her own offer increased by $13 million after she pointed to significantly higher compensation being paid to Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, who respectively reeled in $60 million and $40 million.
“The Court notes that Mo’Nique raises a novel theory here, namely that an employer’s failure to negotiate an ‘opening offer’ in good faith, consistent with its alleged customary practice which typically leads to increased compensation, constitutes an ‘adverse employment action’ for purposes of a retaliation claim,” the judge wrote.
“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.”
Netflix declined to comment.
Mo’Nique’s lawyer did not return requests seeking comment, but told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday: “Today’s ruling is an important victory for Hollywood talent who, just like all other workers, need protections against retaliation if they raise concerns about pay discrimination during the hiring process.”
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