Candace Newman filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Live Nation Entertainment retaliated against her for complaints about racial and gender discrimination, then let her go recently while using COVID-19 staffing reductions as an excuse, Variety is reporting. She worked for the entertainment giant for more than a decade, most recently as director, US Concerts and Touring.
Newman, who is Black, alleges in the lawsuit that the company “fosters a toxic work environment of harassment, discrimination, and retaliating against employees, like Plaintiff, who complain about a lack of diversity and race discrimination in the workplace.”
“This case epitomizes the issue at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement – systemic racism.”
In its response, Live Nation challenged the contention that Newman was wrongfully terminated, and pushed back against the allegations of bias or discrimination. Newman and others have been furloughed due to the halt on live entertainment during the coronavirus pandemic, but remains an employee of the company, and “our furloughed staff are still valued employees, receiving healthcare and other benefits,” they told Variety.
“We would like to be clear that any allegations of bias and discrimination in Ms. Newman’s claims are completely unfounded,” its statement continued. “Live Nation is fully commmitted to being an anti-racist and equitable organization and we continuously strive to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered.”
Among the specific complaints in the lawsuit are that Newman’s pay upon promotion to director level was substantially less than other non-black or male employees at similar level – as much as 40% less. It also references her being forced to dismantle the company’s first women’s resource group after creating it and attracting over 300 members despite there being no similar group for interested workers to join. At its core are several instances of unjustified harsh criticism of her performance by superiors who had been fast-tracked to promotions above her despite seniority, as well as unfair treatment by the company’s HR department related to complaints she had made about fellow employees that were subsequently turned into investigations against her.
Newman was “scrutinized and criticized far more harshly than her non-Black and/or male peers,” the lawsuit alleges. “When she finally reached a point where she could no longer tolerate this unfair treatment, Ms. Newman made a formal complaint of discrimination and retained counsel to protect her rights. In a blatant and malicious act of retaliation, Live Nation turned the investigation on her, alleging that she had created the ‘hostile work environment.'”
Newman, who is represented by Toni J. Jaramilla and May Mallari, is asking the court for compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction against discriminatory and retaliatory practices outlined in her complaint. The amount of damages requested is not specified in the lawsuit.