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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

LOS ANGELES—A Black former Netflix Inc. employee is suing the company for racial discrimination and retaliation, alleging he was fired earlier this year because of his ethnicity and for complaining about his disparate treatment on the job.

Jerrold Ivery's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges race discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment and retaliation. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Thursday.

A Netflix representative could not be immediately reached.

"Netflix's manner of treating Black or African-American employees is contrary to the clean public face that Netflix seeks to project," the suit states.

Although Netflix has recently increased its percentage of staff and leadership with people of underrepresented racial and/or ethnic backgrounds, its board of directors continues to consist of mostly white males, the suit states.

"Unfortunately, the reality within Netflix is that Black or African- American employees, such as Mr. Ivery, continue to experience discrimination within Netflix," the suit alleges.

The 51-year-old Ivery was hired in June 2019 and worked as a production finance associate in Netflix's Los Angeles office until his March 17 firing, the suit states.

"Netflix never provided any feedback to Mr. Ivery that indicated his work needed to improve or he would risk termination," the suit states

While working for Netflix, Ivery expressed concern often about two independent contractors working for Netflix, including one whom the plaintiff believes was "at the very least racially prejudiced" based on the aggressive behavior shown by the contractor, the suit states.

The contractor once shouted at Ivery for purportedly speaking too loud in a conversation with the plaintiff's non-Black supervisor, saying it disrupted his phone call, but the contractor did not similarly berate Ivery's boss, the suit states.

Ivery also believed the contractor was chauvinistic, based on Ivery's observations of how the contractor interacted with women, the suit states.

Ivery filed a discrimination complaint against the contractor last October, triggering an investigation that ended in February "with no actions taken to address Mr. Ivery's concerns of discrimination," the suit states.

Instead, less than one month after the investigation was concluded, Netflix abruptly fired Ivery, saying his emails displayed a "problematic communication style," the suit states.

However, Netflix only brought two emails to Ivery's attention, one that was allegedly problematic and a subsequent one that the company found acceptable and exemplary, according to the suit.

"Netflix was unbothered, however, because its goal was to terminate Mr. Ivery's employment for filing a discrimination complaint, and any rationale, no matter how tortured, was sufficient," the suit states.

Netflix offered flimsy reasons for Ivery's firing and did not terminate non-Black employees who engaged in far worse conduct, the suit states.

"Netflix's retaliatory termination of Mr. Ivery's employment is especially offensive here, considering that Netflix has superficially tried to pass itself off as being genuinely interested in diversity and inclusion," the suit states.