The toxic bro culture at Vice has been under scrutiny for several months due to rampant sexual harassment revealed there. And now a former employee has filed a lawsuit against the media company alleging that it routinely discriminates against female employees, systematically paying them significantly less than male workers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and seeking class action certification based on the number of women who worked for the company who were paid less for their work than male employees, was brought by Elizabeth Rose, who worked in Los Angeles and New York as a channel and project manager for Viceland cable, according to the Times.
The suit alleges that Vice Media violated equal pay acts in New York and California as well as the Federal Equal Pay Act. Nearly 700 women who worked for the company in the past six years could possibly join one of three types of class action suits proposed.
Considering Vice’s history of bad behavior, the revelation that it pays women significantly less than men is not shocking. During the height of the #MeToo movement in November, The Daily Beast published a report that detailed the depth of Vice’s culture of harassment perpetrated by men reaching all the way to the upper echelon of the company’s hierarchy, but that was just another story in an ever-growing list of ugly pieces detailing the company's toxicity.
As the Harvey Weinstein scandal was breaking in early October, Buzzfeed published an exposé revealing that a male editor for Broadly, Vice’s feminist vertical, worked with alt-right darling Milo Yiannopoulos to terrorize women online. Also in November, former Broadly columnist Michael Hafford, who wrote the "Male Feminist's Guide To…" (essentially a primer on teaching men how to be just sensitive enough to lure women into bed), was accused of raping or assaulting four women. Then the Daily Beast story blew the doors off of Vice’s insidious culture, including its “non-traditional workplace agreement” that is essentially intended as a “get out of jail free” card for sexual harassers.
In December, as The New York Times prepared to further expose the company, Vice's cofounder and chief executive Shane Smith (pictured) and Vice Media cofounder Suroosh Alvi posted a message on Vice regarding the company's bro culture. They wrote:
"Listening to our employees over the past year, the truth is inescapable: 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. Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental 'boy’s club' culture that fostered inappropriate behavior that permeated throughout the company. It happened on our watch, and ultimately we let far too many people down. We are truly sorry for this."
The lawyer handling the suit against Vice, Michael Morrison, sees the gender pay gap as a natural progression for #MeToo.
"Not enough attention in the #MeToo movement has been drawn to pay disparities," Morrison told the L.A. Times. "You can't ignore that pay disparities based on gender have a profound effect on women. To not get the same amount of money as your male colleague, based on your sex, what is more discriminatory than that?"
Rose, who worked at the company from 2014 to 2016, discovered Vice Media’s pay disparity as part of her job, where she routinely received internal memos in which she was privy to the salaries of about 35 Vice Media employees that proved that women "made far less than male employees for the same or substantially similar work," the L.A. Times reports. Rose also discovered that a subordinate male employee she hired was paid $25,000 per year more than she was, according to the paper.
Adding insult to injury, Vice Media promoted that subordinate to be Rose's supervisor because male clients found him to be a “good personality fit.”