14/02/2018 00:27 GMT

Former Employee Sues Vice Media For Allegedly Underpaying Female Staffers

The plaintiff says she was paid $25,000 less than a male subordinate she hired.

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Shane Smith, chief executive officer of Vice Media Inc., is seen in September 2016.

Vice Media, a company that has been accused of fostering a hostile workplace environment for women, is now facing a lawsuit from a former employee over alleged equal pay violations.

In a case filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, former Vice Media employee Elizabeth Rose accused her onetime employer of a pattern of paying female employees less than their male peers. The practice, the lawsuit argues, is in violation of the Federal Equal Pay Act and similar state acts in New York and California ― the two states where Rose lived while working for Vice from 2014 to 2016. 

According to the filing, Rose obtained an internal memo in 2015 showing her the salaries of about 35 other employees. She allegedly discovered that overall, the men were being paid significantly higher salaries than their female counterparts for essentially the same work. 

Rose says she discovered a particularly egregious pay discrepancy between herself and a male employee she’d hired. Per the lawsuit:

Plaintiff hired her male subordinate, but she learned that this male employee earned approximately $25,000 per year more than her. This male employee quickly rose through the ranks and was later promoted to a position as Plaintiff’s supervisor by the male executive overseeing the Live Nation joint venture, who told Plaintiff that the male employee was a “good personality fit” for male clients at Live Nation.

The lawsuit alleges that hundreds of women employed at Vice Media were affected by the equal pay violation. Rose’s lawyers are seeking class-action certification.

In a statement to HuffPost, Vice said it’s still reviewing Rose’s complaint, and noted that it’s studying workplace equality concerns.

“We have just been made aware of the complaint and are reviewing it,” the statement read. “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.”

Former Vice News writer Alice Speri tweeted in support of Rose’s claims on Tuesday:

In December, a bombshell New York Times report explored the toxic workplace culture for women at Vice Media. Two men alleged in the report to have engaged in sexual misconduct at work, company President Andrew Creighton and Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano, were subsequently placed on leave the following month. After the launch of an internal investigation, Germano was permanently dismissed. The company is still investigating claims against Creighton. 

Ahead of the Times piece late last year, The Daily Beast and BuzzFeed News also published investigations into toxic behavior by male employees at Vice Media.