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Furloughed Live Nation exec sues over allegations of discrimination

By | Published on Friday 10 July 2020

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A Live Nation executive in the US has sued her employer alleging that she, as black woman working for the live music giant, has been the victim of discrimination, resulting in her being pushed out of the business under the guise of COVID-19 measures.

The lawsuit, filed by Candace Newman with the LA County Superior Court, runs through various grievances from her decade-plus stint working for Live Nation. The case at large, the lawsuit states, “epitomises the issue at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement – systemic racism”.

Newman says that she was consistently “scrutinised and criticised far more harshly” than her male and non-black peers, resulting in what she considers to be unfair and unwarranted formal warnings from her immediate managers.

She adds that she submitted a formal complaint of her own in February this year, but was then put on leave the following month as the COVID-19 shutdown began, subsequently being formally furloughed. She was also told an investigation had been launched, but into complaints made against her, rather than her complaints against the company.

Elsewhere in the legal filing, Newman says that in 2015 she created a ‘resource group’ for women working at Live Nation which attracted more than 300 employees, but that she was then instructed to dismantle it because only VP level staff were allowed to pursue such initiatives. But that policy failed to acknowledge, the lawsuit says, “the lack of representation of employees of colour in those positions”.

Newman’s legal filing is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and a court order against discriminatory and retaliatory practices.

Live Nation itself has already responded to the litigation, telling Variety that “we were surprised by Ms Newman’s claim of wrongful termination, as she is still an employee at Live Nation”. Of course Live Nation, like most companies in the live sector, has put a portion of its workforce on leave or furlough as the COVID-19 crisis has run its course. Although Newman’s claim is that she was specifically put on leave because of the complaints she had made shortly before shutdown began.

As for Newman’s various allegations of discrimination, Live Nation’s rep said that, while the company “cannot comment on specifics of the lawsuit while in active litigation”, it would nevertheless “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 organisation and we continuously strive to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered”.