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Netflix Loses Motion To Dismiss Mo'Nique's Discrimination Lawsuit

The Queen of Comedy is suing the streaming service for race and gender bias.
Netflix Loses Motion To Dismiss Mo’Nique’s Discrimination Lawsuit
Mo’Nique / Susan DeLoach

A federal judge denied to dismiss Mo’Nique’s lawsuit against Netflix after the Queen of Comedy sued the streaming service for race and gender discrimination over their low offer for a potential 2017 stand-up special. It resulted in Mo’Nique calling on her fans to boycott Netflix and eventually, she claims in the suit, being blacklisted.

“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,” Judge Andre Birotte Jr. said Wednesday, according to court documents obtained by NBC News. “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.”

This was Netflix’s second motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleges that Netflix offered Mo’Nique $500,000 for a comedy special that “wreaked of discrimination” and “perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women.” The suit also claimed her Netflix business dealings “ended with a blacklisting act of retaliation.”

Back in 2018, Mo called on her fans to boycott Netflix after the Oscar winner pointed out that the same streaming service reportedly gave Chris Rock $40 million and Dave Chapelle $60 million for comedy specials.

A Netflix spokesperson told ESSENCE earlier this year in a statement, “We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously. We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair—which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”

Still, another Black female comedian, Wanda Sykes, came forward after Mo’Nique revealed the low offer for her comedy special. Wanda Sykes: Not Normal eventually aired on Netflix in 2019, after the comedian told Variety the streamer “moved that comma.”

Netflix Loses Motion To Dismiss Mo’Nique’s Discrimination Lawsuit

Mo’Nique’s attorneys said in their lawsuit that they’re filing it because they hope to change the pay gap for Black women. It’s no secret that Black women earn only 61 cents for every dollar a white man makes, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

“The pay gap for Black women cuts across the economic spectrum affecting low-paid workers and highly compensated ones alike,” the lawsuit said. “Unfortunately for Mo’Nique and many other women of color, their challenges when speaking up about pay gap inequality are all the greater because they are met with skepticism, not empathy, when they ask for more money.”

Mo told ESSENCE earlier this year she felt she had a duty to speak up–especially since there are so many Black women coming up behind her in the industry.

“You got to pay me according to my resume,” the Baltimore native said back in February. “Please don’t misunderstand me. When you start saying, ‘You have to pay me accordingly. You have to pay me fairly and equally,’ that’s when the problem sets in. And what I can’t do, sis, is waiver from that position because of the women that came before me and the babies that will come after me.”