December 17, 2018

Former Employee Sues Vice, Claiming It Pays Women Less

In response to the Times investigation, Vice Media’s founders, Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, said in a statement that “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.” They said that a “boys club” culture at Vice had “fostered inappropriate behavior that permeated throughout the company” and pledged a number of changes, including pay parity by the end of 2018.

The lawsuit points to that statement from Mr. Smith and Mr. Alvi as evidence that the company was aware of Vice’s “inequitable pay, promotion, job assignments, and other practices.”

“They made this grandiose statement about how they are going to fix stuff,” said Michael S. Morrison, a lawyer for Ms. Rose. “Now, they have the chance to do something about it.”

In a statement on Tuesday, a Vice spokesman said: “As a company, we have made a significant commitment to a respectful, inclusive and equal workplace. 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.”

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Mr. Morrison said he was contacted by Ms. Rose after the Times article was published and that the lawsuit had been filed without first making an attempt to settle the matter privately. He said that he had been contacted by other women potentially interested in joining the suit.

The lawsuit says that Ms. Rose, an employee at Vice from 2014 to 2016, learned that she and other women made “far less” than their male colleagues for the same or similar work when she received an internal company document in 2015 that listed the salaries of 35 Vice Media employees. Ms. Rose hired a male subordinate who made about $25,000 more per year than her, and he later was promoted to work as her supervisor, according to the suit. The suit also says a male executive told Ms. Rose that the male employee was “a good personality fit” for male clients.

According to the suit, Ms. Rose spoke with other women who worked at Vice Media who said that they were paid less than men who did the same or similar work. One example was a woman who earned about $50,000 a year while a man in a similar job made about $15,000 more. “When this same female employee was later promoted to the position of managing editor, defendants paid her approximately $15,000 less per year than the male employee that previously held the managing editor position,” the lawsuit says.

Alice Speri, a journalist who worked at Vice, said on Twitter on Tuesday that she was paid substantially less than a male colleague.

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“There was technically another ‘head’ writer but he had less experience barely wrote — he made nearly twice my salary,” she wrote.

The lawsuit seeks back pay for female Vice employees who were paid less than their male counterparts, liquidated damages, lawyer fees and injunctive relief that would prevent Vice from “continuing discriminatory pay packages and from engaging in any further unlawful gender discrimination.”

Vice got its start in 1994 as a free magazine in Montreal. It has since grown into a global company with roughly 3,000 employees, a television network, a digital footprint and its own film-production company. It has a documentary program on HBO and counts among its investors the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox.

“It is not really punk rock to discriminate,” Mr. Morrison said.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/business/media/vice-media-lawsuit.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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