Celebrity Discrimination: No One Escapes Employment Discrimination

celebrity stands in front of paparazzi

Celebrity Discrimination: No One Escapes Employment Discrimination

Celebrity discrimination eats away at the highest levels of the entertainment industry throughout America. If race, gender, and pay discrimination occurs throughout the industry that often sets standards for the rest of America, how much more important is it to fight that discrimination?

The employment lawyers at Kraemer, Manes, & Associates dedicate their careers to fighting employment discrimination and providing legal solutions to clients.

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The Cost of Fame Shame

Celebrities accelerate through life, managing interviews, overseeing companies or charities, and maneuvering through social media while also trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy. In many ways, their time is a sizzling commodity, not only for themselves but for their careers. America and the world wants a piece of each of these icons. And yet, every woman and minority face severe discrimination and often stay quiet about the disparity.

Although popular opinion believes that fame protects you, no one is immune to the shame of discrimination. For celebrities, discrimination is just as prevalent and crippling, targeting gender, race, and pay. And yet, since celebrities already earn so much more than most Americans, they wade through the shame of speaking up against discrimination and looking ungrateful for a huge paycheck. After all, it can appear petty to squabble over numbers. But it’s less about the money as it is about the lack of equality throughout the industry that benefits from the fame and work of celebrities.

“I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women.” – Emma Watson

In an industry that exists in part because of the popularity of celebrities, the assumption would be that celebrities would be treated best of all. After all, the entertainment industry celebrates the stories of the underdog and those who champion human rights. Unfortunately, the big screen often doesn’t translate to reality in front of and behind the camera.

“It’s the start of a conversation that feels like we shouldn’t need anymore because particularly in this industry, we think of ourselves as being liberal [and] very progressive. We need to put our money where our mouth is.” – Daniel Radcliffe

Celebrity discrimination, although less discussed, is a reality that influences the newest to oldest celebrities. These are people who focused every last penny to reach the limelight and then often turn around and use that fame and money to better the world by partnering with humanitarian organizations and speaking out against human injustices. And yet, discrimination persists.

What Does Discrimination Against Celebrities Look Like?

Celebrities experience the same type of discrimination that others do. Despite seeming untouchable, celebrities face gender, race, age, color discrimination. And this celebrity discrimination culminates most obviously in unequal pay.

Gender Discrimination

Often, the cornerstone in employment discrimination is gender discrimination. Historically, men received better pay and benefits for their employment while women faced discrimination when they pursued similar opportunities. As society pushes against this long-held norm, another extreme has emerged with reverse gender discrimination. But the goal is to eliminate this type of employment discrimination.

When gender discrimination influences the ability to grow a career, reach out to a celebrity employment discrimination lawyer for legal solutions.

Example of Gender Discrimination

Zola Mashariki filed a lawsuit against her former employer, Black Entertainment Television, for gender discrimination among other things. Mashariki was terminated from her position while she was on approved leave for breast cancer treatment. Moreover, she claims that her employer “fosters a good old boys’ club atmosphere,” which stems from the leaders of the company. Mashariki points to the overwhelming male leadership teams as the root of the problem. (Mashariki v. Viacom, Inc, et. al., 2017)

Race Discrimination

On the other hand, some may argue that race discrimination is the true cornerstone of employment discrimination since it affects men and women alike. The true tragedy of this type of celebrity discrimination is that we have no say in the race that we are. Therefore, employment discrimination due to race is a ridiculous and irrational cruelty.

“We need more diversity. We’re not telling the stories of many, we’re telling the stories of few. There’s a problem with the storytelling, with the protagonists…it’s in front of the camera, it’s behind the camera…This is not how we want to be working and we need to tell the stories of all.” – Jessica Chastain

In a diverse and story-filled world, we all need to fight employment discrimination. An employment lawyer helps navigate the legal system and fights for the employment rights of all.

Example of Race Discrimination

Jerome Almon, a Detroit record producer, filed a lawsuit against the Canadian border officials for race discrimination. He alleges that he and other African Americans suffer unfair harassment and detainment by the border officials while white counterparts with prison time receive the royal treatment. Almon called 41 entertainment celebrities, including Mick Jagger, Oprah Winfrey, and Paris Hilton, to share about their treatment at the border.

In this situation, Almon’s lawsuit fizzled out. However, his lawsuit did raise awareness of the possible treatment that different races experience when border crossing. (Almon v. Caplan, et. al., 2008)

Example of Race Discrimination

Whitney Wilburn, repulsed by her employer’s race discrimination against herself but also Serena Williams, filed a lawsuit against Gianvito Rossi. As the only Black employee for nearly 2 years, Wilburn noticed that her employer “referred to Ms. Williams as ‘disgusting’ and refused to offer any discount.” Wilburn’s white boss fired her “without warning or formal evaluation” and then hired a younger, white person to the job. Race discrimination taints the prestigious Gianvito Rossi. (Wilburn v. Gianvito Rossi, 2017)

When any of the above situations occur, certain legal solutions are available to individuals who have faced employment discrimination. Contact a lawyer today.

professional business woman staring

The Antagonizing Pay Gap

The most obvious way to recognize the existence of ongoing employment discrimination is in pay. Minorities within every industry realize that they are facing employment discrimination when irregularities in pay for similar experience and skill background appear. The disrespect of a pay gap due to discrimination haunts every industry, including the entertainment industry.

In recent years, more and more celebrities have spoken out against the pay gap that’s hounding women and different races within the industry.

“Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar,” she told the magazine. “In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.” – Natalie Portman

Meanwhile, the wage gap widens when it comes to race-based pay. White women still earn more than black and Hispanic men. Of course, Forbes checked the numbers in 2013 and discovered that the top-paid actors made 2.5 times the money than the top-paid actresses. Since Hollywood sets the tone for society, they need to be first to model equality in pay.

“…women of color don’t even get paid even half of what Caucasian women are paid. There needs to be an awareness that we’re just there, that our presence is there, that we put in the work.” – Viola Davis

“It can be painful. Your salary is a way to quantify what you’re worth. If men are being paid a lot more for doing the same thing, it feels shitty.” – Gwenyth Paltrow

President Obama changed the law on pay discrimination in 2009 by signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, allowing victims of a pay gap to file a complaint within 180 days of the final paycheck. The previous law only allowed 180 days for filing from the date of the first unfair paycheck. Slowly the government is taking steps to provide better protections for the minorities who experience a wage gap.

Studies speculate that equal pay for white women won’t happen until 2059, but that doesn’t include pay equality for all races, men, and woman. The day of equal pay will arrive sooner when all voices fight pay inequality. Since the pay gap mocks men and women throughout the entertainment industry, fight back against the pay gap by contacting an employment lawyer to challenge the celebrity employment discrimination.


If you have experienced celebrity discrimination, contact an employment attorney for legal solutions.

Chat with a discrimination attorney: (412) 626-5626 or lawyer@lawkm.com.