California’s Central District court ruled on Thursday that comedian Mo’Nique’s discrimination lawsuit against Netflix can move forward, denying Netflix’s attempt to dismiss the claim.
Mo’Nique, whose legal name is Monique Hicks, filed a race and sex discrimination suit against the streaming service in November. She alleges that Netflix broke the law when it gave her a “lowball” offer for a comedy special in 2018. According to Mo’Nique, she was offered only $500,000 for a special, while Amy Schumer was offered $11 million and Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock were both offered $20 million.
U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. argued that Netflix’s failure to negotiate an opening offer with Mo’Nique, as is customary in the industry, makes her discrimination claim viable.
“Regardless of whether plaintiff will ultimately prevail on (her) claims, dismissing this case under Rule 12(b)(6) is not appropriate,” Birotte Jr. wrote. “Plaintiff’s complaint may raise a novel issue, but that does not justify dismissing it at this stage.”
Mo’Nique’s suit also alleges that Netflix lacks diversity in its senior leadership, citing figures that Black people only made up 6% of their workforce as of 2019.
David deRubertis, Mo’Nique’s lawyer, said in a statement obtained by USA Today that Netflix claimed that ceasing “good-faith negotiations because she raised concerns about pay discrimination is not retaliation under the law.” But, the court disagreed.
“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,” deRubertis said.
In November, Netflix said they believed their offer to Mo’Nique was fair.
“We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously,” Netflix said. “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”
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