In recent weeks, furloughed executive, Candace Newman, has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, Live Nation.
Newman believes she was wrongfully terminated due to her grievances about being discriminated against in the Live Nation workplace. Newman alleges that Live Nation did not show their support with her grievances; instead, she claims that the global entertainment company negated her complaints, and then cut her loose with coronavirus-related staff reductions to cite as the excuse to relieve the company of the complaint.
From the jump, the lawsuit states that “Live Nation continues to perpetuate race and gender-based inequalities in hiring, pay and promotion. It 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.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel via Zoom, Newman stated, “In January… I sent the CEO [Michael Rapino] an e-mail expressing all of this. [He] put someone in charge to investigate. In this investigating, the person [in charge] never talked to me. Live Nation spoke with the other parties about my email and concluded an outcome without gathering my feedback or thoughts.”
One of Newman’s attorneys, Toni J. Jaramilla stated, “When an employee brings up a claim of discrimination or hostile work environment in the workplace, the company has an obligation to promptly and fairly conduct an investigation that is unbiased.”
Newman began her career at Live Nation in 2009, in which she was hired as an executive assistant. Through her hard work and self-advocacy, she was eventually promoted to project manager 6 ½ years later. Approximately, three years later, Newman asserted herself and became the only African American female named as the Director of U.S. Concerts & Touring at the time.
Newman expressed, “I never really had the same opportunities and access as a lot of my peers… I started seeing a lot of my non-Black, non-women counterparts come in and be promoted from assistant roles or project management roles within one or two years. That really allowed me to raise questions about why am I still in this role after 6 ½ years?”
Notably, Newman says she “executed the entire tour process” of the Backstreet Boys tour this past year, in which she helped generate upwards of 100 million dollars for Live Nation. She mentioned, “I worked on probably four to five tours a year. So, that 100 million is generated from the [Backstreet Boys] tour last year alone. That does not include the other four tours I worked on.”
During the interview, Newman acknowledged that she was also the primary advocate in recruiting Toni Braxton to LN as one of the few African American legacy acts; as well as, booked tours for Santana and David Blaine.
Despite Newman’s efforts, in 2018, she discovered in the SILO-salary-breakdown that she was also significantly underpaid in comparison to her non-Black or male counterparts at the director level. Newman’s payrate was recorded as one-third to 40% less than her peers.
Regarding this underpayment, the lawsuit acknowledges that after her direct grievance to CEO Michael Rapino, Newman’s payrate was adjusted to align with her peers moving forward. However, there was no offer to compensate her retroactively. Newman states, “The money from the hundreds of millions that I did [generate], I never received any incentives from that. And there are other colleagues of mine who are male and who are white, who have received a back-end split of those tours that they worked on.”
Attorney Toni J. Jaramilla also questioned Live Nation’s incentive payments or lack thereof, stating, “That is what we’re seeking. Those ongoing violations of fair pay. If they really were trying to make it right, and if they really took seriously her complaints of fairness and discriminatory pay, they would’ve made her whole by giving her the differential of what she should’ve been given in the first place.”
On July 9, Live Nation CEO, Michael Rapino publicly shared a letter regarding LN’s 10-million-dollar initiative to promote greater diversity, post George Floyd murder. Rapino stated, “As the leader in live music, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to amplify the conversation around anti-racism and Black Lives Matter in order to be a part of the solution. We are committing to take steps to ensure that everyone in our community – employees, artists, and fans – is valued, respected, and treated equitably.”
When asked about Rapino’s public statement Newman said, “I think that is great, but within my 11 years of experience, that plan has not been in place. So, it only confirms what I am claiming.” Newman’s attorneys, Toni J. Jaramilla and May Mallari, are asking the court for unspecified compensatory damage, injunction against discriminatory and retaliatory practices, punitive damages on all claims, as well as other requests listed within the lawsuit.
Live Nation provided a statement to the LA Sentinel regarding the Candace Newman lawsuit against them.
“We were surprised by Ms. Newman’s claim of wrongful termination, as she is still an employee at Live Nation. With concerts on pause due to the pandemic, we unfortunately had to implement furloughs across our company, most heavily impacting our concerts division, but our furloughed staff are still valued employees, receiving healthcare and other benefits. We cannot comment on specifics of the lawsuit while in active litigation; however, we would like to be clear that any allegations of bias and discrimination in Ms. Newman’s claims are completely unfounded. Live Nation is fully committed to being an anti-racist and equitable organization and we continuously strive to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered.”
Editor’s Note: The article has been edited from the original published version