Does Netflix Leadership Have a Racism and Gender Problem? Mo’Nique Thinks So

Actress and comedian Mo’Nique, who is known in part for her outstanding performance in Precious, is taking a stand against Netflix. The Oscar-winning star has filed a gender and racial discrimination suit against Netflix following a surprisingly low offer for her stand-up comedy special. 

Mo’Nique’s filing highlights similar instances of racism and gender disparity problems in Netflix’s past. These instances include Kevin Spacey’s behavior on the set of House of Cards, Claire Foy’s pay for filming The Crown, and a senior Netflix executive who got the boot following his use of a racial slur in front of staff. 

A history of racism?

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Unfortunately, Mo’Nique’s claim against Netflix is far from the first incident or claim of racism at the company. In fact, Mo’Nique’s lawsuit references two instances that are especially alarming. One major incident features none other than the now-disgraced Kevin Spacey. 

During the allegations against him during the #MeToo movement, it was also revealed that Spacey used the n-word on set, and interacted strangely with his black security guards. Earl Blue, the head of VIP Protective Services, was tasked with providing security for Spacey on House of Cards. Apparently, Spacey did not take to his new protectors. 

According to Blue, a black man, Spacey refused to acknowledge him or his black security guards. Blue told Daily Mail, “He would look at me, walk back to his trailer and check to make sure the door was locked. Over the course of that day I started laughing at him. He did it every single time he left his trailer—at least a dozen times.”

Despite a positive review from the production company, Spacey axed the security team. He apparently told his production staff that “he did not want n***ers on his set anymore.”

The security team was told they should turn a blind eye to Spacey’s racism, due to his influence. Mo’Nique also cites a senior executive at Netflix who was sacked due to his use of racial slurs. 

Netflix fired their chief spokesman, Jonathan Friedland, after it was revealed that he’d used the n-word multiple times in front of staff. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent the following memo to staff following Friedland’s firing, “Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity, and is not in line with our values as a company.”

Disparity in pay between genders

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Sadly, these major racial gaffes weren’t the only evidence Mo’Nique was able to supply in her lawsuit. Mo’Nique’s suit also pointed out the major pay disparity between Matt Smith and Claire Foy for their work on The Crown

The size of the pay disparity is unknown, and though Left Bank has promised to prevent the same from occurring in the future, it doesn’t appear as if any attempt was made to make up for the pay gap between the two stars for the first two seasons of the show. 

Left Bank noted, “As the producers of The Crown, we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues. We understand and appreciate the conversation which is rightly being played out across society and we are absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias, and for a rebalancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that these issues are tackled, and as a leading production company we want to make our contribution to the debate. As company policy we are engaged in conversations with ERA 50:50 and going forward are keen to talk to Time’s Up UK, organizations which are working to ensure all women have a voice.”

That’s a lofty stance to take for a company that has shown no signs of making amends for the mistake they made. It’s easy to see where Mo’Nique is coming from.

Mo’Nique files a lawsuit

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While the status of the lawsuit is ongoing, Mo’Nique has been very upfront about her criticisms of Netflix. Frankly, it’s reasonable for Mo’Nique to bristle — she was offered an insultingly low $500,000. Let’s keep in mind that Mo’Nique is an Oscar Award-winning actress. 

In an Instagram post, Mo’Nique wrote, “Hi My Loves — I can confirm that today I filed a pay discrimination lawsuit against Netflix. 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. I chose to stand up. I don’t have any further comment at this time, but I appreciate all of your support and love.”

Netflix has yet to publicly respond to the suit. They have previously said, “Netflix does not comment on contract negotiations.”

The lawsuit does mention the feeling that, “Netflix’s offer to Mo’Nique perpetuates the drastic wage gap forced upon Black women in America’s workforce.”