Well, it looks like Mo’Nique settled a major conflict this week…well, at least ONE of them.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that streaming giant Netflix has settled with the comedienne on Tuesday, with the terms of the deal under wraps. This may prove to be a smart move, as the case had the potential to ultimately punish Netflix for refusing to negotiate in good faith after giving the Oscar winner what she called a “low-balled” offer.
How It Started
In 2017, Netflix courted Mo’Nique for an hour-long comedy special, just as they were boosting up their stand-up comedy lineup. However, negotiations fell through when Mo’Nique turned down their initial offer of $500,000 for the special. It’s worth noting that Netflix would’ve had complete control, owning the copyright and retaining all audio-only rights. Mo’Nique immediately called Netflix out for the discriminatory offer, and the negotiations ended.
Mo’Nique subsequently sued Netflix for refusing to continue negotiations and accused them of low-balling Black, female comediennes while offering more money to their Black, male counterparts (like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle), as well as White, female comedians. (We’re looking at you, Amy Schumer.) Mo’Nique alleged that the aforementioned comedians were able to land 8-figure deals by leveraging other comedians’ compensation. As a result, they received deals that were 26-times the amount that Mo’Nique was originally offered.
The complaint states: “The offer made to Mo’Nique was merely an ‘opening offer’ from which there was an expectation — both by Netflix and Mo’Nique — of continued negotiations likely leading to increased compensation being offered to Mo’Nique. Once Mo’Nique engaged in protected conduct by protesting the discriminatory offer, Netflix shut down any further negotiations and refused to negotiate in good-faith consistent with its standard practices.”
Mo’Nique further called Netflix to task publicly. That includes an interview with Sway in The Morning in January 2018. “I couldn’t accept that low offer because if I did … I couldn’t sleep at night. If I accepted $500,000, what does Tiffany Haddish have coming? If I accept that, what does the Black female comedian have coming? Because what they’ll say is, ‘Mo’Nique accepted this and she’s got that.’ So what do they have coming?”
In response, Netflix issued a statement, saying, “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.” Netflix petitioned for dismissal, saying that there was no legal authority to support the claim that their refusal to continue good faith negotiations was discriminatory.
The Final Word
Despite Netflix’s best efforts, the judge actually sided with Mo’Nique on this case. Netflix was supposed to negotiate the opening deal, per normal practices. Failing to do so constitutes an “adverse employment action for purposes of a retaliation claim.”
The judge writes: “At the very least, Mo’Nique’s allegations permit the plausible inference that, had she not challenged her offer as discriminatory, Netflix would have continued negotiating in good faith with her and increased her offer, consistent with its customary practice in dealing with talent in the entertainment industry.”
Mo’Nique’s attorney, Michael Parks, simply said, “The matter has been amicably resolved.” Netflix has no comment.