Netflix Blasts Mo'Nique's Retaliation Claim as "Nonsensical" in Discrimination Dispute Over $500K Stand-Up Special Offer

Mo'Nique - Almost Christmas Atlanta screening Getty-H 2019
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures

Netflix says Mo'Nique has failed to explain why she deserved the same pay for a stand-up special as "mega-stars" like Eddie Murphy and Ellen DeGeneres and can't show the company's decision not to give her a better deal after she called for a boycott amounts to retaliation, according to a motion filed Monday.

The comedian, suing under her legal name Monique Hicks, in November filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the streaming giant that claims she was offered only $500,000 for a stand-up special because she's a black woman. 

Her complaint name-checks a who’s who of comedians and their reported Netflix special offers, including: Jerry Seinfeld ($100 million), Murphy ($60 million-$70 million), Dave Chappelle ($60 million total for three shows), Chris Rock ($40 million total for two shows), DeGeneres ($20 million), Ricky Gervais ($40 million for two shows), Jeff Dunham ($16.5 million), Amy Schumer ($13 million) and Wanda Sykes, although she doesn’t list an amount for Sykes and says she had to fight until the streamer “moved that comma.”

Netflix on Monday filed a scathing motion to dismiss several of her claims.

"[H]er Complaint contradicts its core premise by noting that other persons of color, other women, and another African-American woman (like Plaintiff) have been paid substantially more money to create comedy specials for Netflix’s streaming service than what was offered to Plaintiff," writes Netflix's attorney Crystal Nix-Hines in the complaint. "And Plaintiff fails to explain why she was entitled to be offered what the stars to whom she compares herself were offered for creating such comedy specials."

Netflix says her claim that the streamer retaliated against her for speaking out on social media fails because she hasn't offered any facts showing it "engaged in any conduct after she made her complaints."

"Plaintiff’s retaliation theory is, indeed, nonsensical," writes Nix-Hines in the motion, which is posted below. "Plaintiff appears to claim that after she made a public call for a boycott based upon an opening offer that Netflix believed was fair, Netflix had an affirmative obligation to increase its offer, without a counteroffer from Plaintiff, and apparently without any limit on the amount of the offer Plaintiff could demand."

Netflix on Monday also filed a motion to strike several sections of Hicks' complaint arguing they're impertinent, scandalous and prejudicial. Specifically, the streamer takes issue with allegations regarding: a 2017 incident in which a former corporate communications exec used a racial slur in an internal meeting and was subsequently fired; Kevin Spacey's alleged use of racially charged language on the set of House of Cards in 2012; an incident regarding the former chief talent officer alleged expensing beauty treatments for staff; alleged pay disparity issues on The Crown; and general data offered to demonstrate that black women are historically paid less than white men.

Unless stricken from the complaint, Netflix argues, the allegations would not only "distract and confuse" a jury but also unnecessarily expand the scope and cost of the matter. (Read that full filing here.)