Mo’Nique Sues Netflix for Racial and Gender Discrimination

Mo’Nique. Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Nearly two years after calling on her fans to boycott Netflix for what she alleged was racial and gender bias, Mo’Nique is taking her case against the streaming network to court. According to NBC News, the comedian and actor filed a lawsuit against Netflix today, in which she accuses the company of giving her a “biased, discriminatory” offer for a one-hour comedy special back in 2017. Mo’Nique was vocal about the low offer at the time and even earned the support of fellow comic Wanda Sykes, who later had a Netflix comedy special of her own after, as she put it, Netflix “moved that comma.”

Mo’Nique confirmed the news of the lawsuit in an Instagram post today. “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.”

Mo’Nique’s lawsuit against Netflix cites the offers it reportedly gave to other high-profile comedians for specials, including Jerry Seinfeld ($100 million), Dave Chappelle ($60 million), Chris Rock ($40 million), and Amy Schumer, who retroactively negotiated her $11 million offer to, reportedly, $13 million. Mo’Nique, on the other hand, was offered a $500,000 “talent fee.” “Netflix reportedly offered or paid Rock, Chappelle, DeGeneres, and Gervais forty (40) times more per show than it offered Mo’Nique, and it offered Schumer twenty-six (26) times more per show than Mo’Nique,” the lawsuit notes. “In short, Netflix’s offer to Mo’Nique perpetuates the drastic wage gap forced upon Black women in America’s workforce.”

The lawsuit also says that Netflix has “historically lacked racial diversity,” noting that in 2018 and 2019 the streaming network reported only 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of its employees were black. Several examples of racial discrimination at the company are highlighted, including allegations of Kevin Spacey saying the N-word on the set of House of Cards and chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland also using the N-word in a meeting and later during an HR meeting about the incident, after which he was fired from his position. The suit also notes past instances of pay discrimination, including the news that The Crown star Claire Foy was paid significantly less than Matt Smith last year.

Update, 5:54 p.m.: A spokesperson for Netflix has responded to the lawsuit with a statement. “We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously,” the statement says. “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”

Mo’Nique Sues Netflix for Racial and Gender Discrimination