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Vice Media sued for pay discrimination against women

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Shane Smith, seen on the right in 2015, co-founded Vice Media in 1994. He currently serves as chief executive of the company. (Courtesy photo)

A woman who formerly worked for Vice Media has alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the company discriminates against female employees, systemically and intentionally paying them less than their male counterparts.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action certification, was filed by Elizabeth Rose, who worked at the millennial-focused media company in New York and Los Angeles from 2014 to 2016, serving as a channel manager and project manager. Vice Media operates the Viceland cable channel and produces two news programs for HBO, among other projects.

The complaint alleges that Rose, as part of her job, received internal memos that showed the salaries of about 35 Vice Media employees, revealing a pay disparity in which females “made far less than male employees for the same or substantially similar work.”

The lawsuit alleges Vice Media violated equal pay laws in New York and California, as well as the federal Equal Pay Act. Depending on the circumstances, women who were employed by the company within the last six years could be a member of one of three proposed classes, which in total could include more than 700 women, according to the lawsuit.

Vice Media, headquartered in Brooklyn, said in a statement that it was reviewing the complaint. “As a company, we have made a significant commitment to a respectful, inclusive and equal workplace,” a company spokesperson said. “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.”

Vice Media was the subject of a Dec. 23 report by the New York Times that contained allegations of sexual misconduct at the company. Soon thereafter, it suspended two male executives — its president, Andrew Creighton, and chief digital officer, Mike Germano — who were accused of misbehavior in the report. Germano was fired in late January.

Rose’s complaint also alleges that after she viewed the internal document that revealed pay disparities between men and women, she spoke with other female colleagues and learned that they too were aware that they were being paid less than their male counterparts. Rose is seeking for herself — and the members of the potential classes — compensatory damages, adjusted wages to compensate for the allegedly discriminatory pay policy and an end to the company’s allegedly discriminatory practices.


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