A black former Live Nation tour director is suing the company for alleged race discrimination and wrongful termination, claiming she was stripped of her job earlier this month under the guise of a coronavirus work furlough.
“This case epitomizes the issue at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement-systemic racism,” according to Candace Newman’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which also alleges gender discrimination and retaliation. She’s seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Wednesday.
A Live Nation representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Newman, now 38, was hired by Live Nation in 2009 as an executive assistant and rose to the position of director of U.S. concerts and touring, the job she held when she was fired, according to her court papers.
“In these 11 years, Ms. Newman has booked tours for world-renowned artists, including the Backstreet Boys, Santana, David Blaine and Toni Braxton,” the suit states. “Ms. Newman brought Toni Braxton to Live Nation as a client.”
Despite performing her job successfully and receiving positive performance evaluations and feedback from her managers and peers alike, Live Nation did not value Newman as an employee, the suit alleges.
“She was continually denied opportunities to succeed and was treated disparately in comparison to her non-Black and/or male counterparts,” according to the suit.
Newman established Live Nation’s first women’s diversity group in 2015 and recruited a committee of six employees to oversee its activities, the suit states.
“The group inspired nearly 300 Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees to join as members,” the suit says. “Shockingly, after volunteering countless hours and devoting tireless efforts in building up this diversity group, Ms. Newman was instructed … to halt all activities and events and to immediately dismantle the group.”
Newman alleges she was told by a Live Nation executive that only those with the rank of vice president and above should be in charge of resource groups.
In May 2016, Newman says she was given a performance counseling memo, which asserted various deficiencies in her performance, by two male white senior directors. Newman was the only Black person working in the touring division at the time, according to her suit.
“Despite a multi-page memo outlining numerous performance deficiencies serious enough to warrant the possibility of termination, not a single one of these issues had been brought to Ms. Newman’s attention prior to issuing this write-up and threatening to terminate her employment,” the suit alleges.
Shortly thereafter, Newman sought a promotion to tour director, but she was not chosen for the job despite having the necessary qualifications, according to her court papers.
Newman says she learned in 2018 that she was getting paid less than other directors on her team and complained to the CEO. hher pay was adjusted to align with her peers, but she was not offered retroactive pay, the suit states.
Newman also learned that most of the directors at her level with the same or substantially similar job duties and responsibilities, but who were white and/or male, made about $30,000 to $40,000 more annually, according to her complaint.
Last September, Live Nation’s human resources department issued Newman a written warning that cited two conflicts with co-workers, the suit says.
“After years of being subjected to discriminatory and disparate treatment, and believing she was unfairly threatened with job termination, Ms. Newman proceeded with making a formal complaint of discrimination,” the suit alleges.
Due to coronavirus-relaed state and local stay-at-home orders, Live Nation employees began working remotely in March, the suit states. Newman says she was told she would be placed on a paid administrative leave pending Live Nation’s investigation of her complaints.
Newman was later told that she had been accused of creating a “hostile work environment” and that she was herself now the subject of an investigation, according to the suit.
In the midst of the pandemic, Live Nation told Newman that her complaints were found to be unsubstantiated, but that the company was continuing to investigate the complaints against her, the suit states.
After the death of George Floyd at a police officer’s knee in Minneapolis, Live Nation publicly announced its commitment toward equality, but Newman was excluded from roundtable discussions dealing with the company’s pledge for accountability and change, the suit alleges.
On June 18, Live Nation notified Newman that she was being furloughed as of July 1 due to the coronavirus, even though other employees who are not Black or women were not furloughed, the suit states.
“As a result of these unlawful and discriminatory working conditions, and exacerbated by her recent termination, Ms. Newman has suffered extreme emotional distress, including but not limited to, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and depression,” according to her court papers.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: