Vice Media Chronically Underpays Female Staff, Lawsuit Says

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By Porter Wells

Vice Media engages in systemic and willful pay discrimination against its female employees, according to a lawsuit filed Feb. 13. The discrimination is alleged to be so pervasive the complaint contemplates hundreds of female employees joining the class action lawsuit.

“Our investigation has uncovered significant evidence that Vice made a conscious decision to pay more money to its male employees than its female employees who worked in similar positions performing the same or substantially similar work,” Michael Morrison of Alexander, Krakow + Glick LLP said in a released statement. Morrison and AKG represent the plaintiff and class representative Elizabeth Rose in the lawsuit.

Vice said in December that it had “failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive.” The statement came after accusations of sexual harassment surfaced and Vice fired three male employees.

“As a company, we have made a significant commitment to a respectful, inclusive, and equal workplace,” a Vice spokesperson told Bloomberg Law Feb. 13 when reached for comment on Rose’s complaint. “That commitment includes a pay parity audit started last year, a goal of 50/50 female/male representation at every level by 2020, and the formation of a Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board.”

Men dominate Vice’s senior leadership positions, Rose’s lawsuit says. Through policies and practices, male executives supposedly interfere with, limit, and prevent female staff based in California and New York from receiving equal pay for equal work. Male leadership maintains centralized control over Vice employees’ terms and conditions of employment, which Rose says compounds the problem.

Vice hired Rose in 2014 as a project manager before promoting her to channel manager. She says she learned of the pay disparities from an internal memo that revealed one of her male subordinate’s salaries exceeded her own by $25,000 per year. That male employee was reportedly quickly promoted beyond Rose because of his “good personality fit,” the lawsuit says.

Rose says she began speaking to other female employees who confirmed personal knowledge of pay disparities between male and female staff.

The lawsuit says the business practices constitute violations of the California Equal Pay Act, the New York State Equal Pay Act, and the federal Equal Pay Act.

Rose is asking the California Superior Court to force Vice to restructure its compensation and promotion policies and to order a payout to the class of unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees.

The case is Rose v. Vice Media, Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., Feb. 13, 2018.

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