Vice Saying It `Failed’ to End Boys’ Club Doesn’t Stop Lawsuit

The Vice Media Inc. application (app) is displayed. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Vice Media Inc.’s acknowledgment that it should have treated women employees better came back to bite the company.

The very first paragraph in a gender-bias lawsuit filed against Vice Tuesday quotes a December statement from its co-founders saying “we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive.” The letter to Vice’s global staff emerged as the New York Times published a story describing more than a dozen cases of sexual misconduct and legal settlements paid to four women.

The complaint in Los Angeles state court also spits back the pledge by co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi to achieve “pay parity by the end of 2018.”

A spokesman for Vice Media said the company is reviewing the complaint.

“As a company, we have made a significant commitment to a respectful, inclusive and equal workplace,” Ian Fried said in an emailed statement. “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.”

Elizabeth Rose, a Vice project manager in Los Angeles, alleged that Vice discriminates against women by permitting male-dominated management to favor men in pay, promotions and other opportunities and “condones a company culture that marginalizes, demeans, and undervalues women.”

Claiming violations of California, New York, and federal equal pay laws, Rose seeks class-action status on behalf of hundreds of other employees and wants damages as well as a court order barring future discrimination.