According to the New York Times, Vice Media was sued this week by a former employee alleging that the company intentionally created a wage disparity between their male and female employees. The employee, Elizabeth Rose, filed the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against the company who is known for its documentaries and news reports that air on HBO and its own Viceland TV network. Rose worked for Vice as a project manager and channel manager and recalls learning about the disparate pay in 2015 when the salaries of 35 Vice employees were shown to her on an internal company document. Rose alleges in the suit that one of the men on the list was someone she had hired, yet he made $25,000 more than her. Additionally, he was promoted to be her supervisor after a male executive at Vice told Rose that the employee was a “better personality fit” with their male clients. Rose intends to make this lawsuit a class action involving upwards of 500 women who have worked for the New York office of Vice in the last six years. Finding these women will not be too challenging for Rose, as many have already come forward with their stories of prejudice in the Vice Media offices.
This suit is not the first instance where women have brought these allegations against Vice Media. An investigation done by the New York Times in December 2017 led to findings that female employees had experienced sexual misconduct, harassment, and defamation. In particular, the New York Times uncovered four settlements regarding these mistreatments, with one settlement involving Vice’s President, Andrew Creighton. In response, the founders of Vice gave a statement saying, “From the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive.” Whether they were referring only to the allegations of sexual harassment or were also acknowledging their company’s wage gap is unclear, but what is clear is Rose’s determination to see changes in Vice’s practices. As Michael Morrison, Rose’s lawyer, said, “They made this grandiose statement about how they [Vice Media] are going to fix stuff. Now, they have the chance to do something about it.”
Jenna El-Fakih is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2020).