Vice Media has agreed to pay $1.875 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by female employees who said that the company underpaid women in their workforce, according to a court filing submitted Monday to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
The company has maintained that there was never any centralized gender pay disparity but agreed in mediation to the payout to past female employees, who is around 675 people.
The suit was brought by Elizabeth Rose, who worked with Vice as a project manager from 2014-2016, and argued that Vice’s practice of relying on past salary data to determine how to pay current employees had resulted in unfair and systemic underpayment for women at the company. Rose and other plaintiffs said Vice’s pay practices violated New York and California labor laws.
In a statement, Vice insisted that it remained committed to gender pay equity and suggested the settled issues had related to “claimed historical disparities” and that the company had conducted a “pay equity analysis” which had been provided to employees.
“VICE’s new management team is committed to maintaining a workplace where all employees are compensated equitably. This is why we provided our employees with the results of the company’s pay equity analysis, and have also settled the Rose case whereby we resolve any claimed historical disparities,” the company said. “We are dedicated to the equitable treatment of all people and we look forward to the Court’s approval of the settlement so that we can continue to fulfill this mission.”
The news is the latest development in a series of scandals that have engulfed the company during the #MeToo era. Complaints and accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct from senior leadership lead directly to the departure of former Vice Media president Andrew Creighton and the company’s chief digital officer, Mike Germano, last year.
After a 2017 New York Times piece detailing multiple sexual harassment settlements from the company to a number of women, Vice co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi publicly apologized to staff and said they would do better going forward.
“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,” they wrote in a public note to Vice employees.
The company also announced the formation of an all-women “advisory council” to be led by Gloria Steinem and would also include, lawyer Roberta Kaplan and Vice COO Alyssa Mastromonaco. In March 2018 the company named Nancy Dubuc to replace Shane Smith as its CEO. Smith has largely stepped away from day-to-day operations in his new role of “executive chairman.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.