A furloughed touring executive is suing Live Nation for race and gender discrimination and wrongful termination.
Candace Newman, 38, who identifies as an African American single mother, claims the company perpetuated race and gender inequalities in the touring division for the 11 years she has worked there. She accuses the company of outwardly committing to the Black Lives Matter movement but internally fostering a “toxic environment of harassment, discrimination and retaliation against employees, like [her], who complain about a lack of diversity and race discrimination in the workplace.”
Newman says she was furloughed from her position as tour director for the North America region on July 1 and believes the decision was made after she raised discrimination complaints about being “scrutinized and criticized far more harshly than her non-Black and/or male peers,” according to a 19-page lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior court on Wednesday.
In a statement to Billboard, Live Nation said it was taken aback by the allegations in the lawsuit, particularly the wrongful termination claim, because Newman is still an active employee of the company.
“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,” read the statement in part.
As for the other claims in Newman’s suit, Live Nation in its statement says the company “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.”
According to the lawsuit, during her tenure at Live Nation Newman has booked tours for world renowned artists including the Backstreet Boys, Santana, David Blaine and Toni Braxton. She says she was “continually undervalued and undercompensated” and learned she was being paid between “one-third to forty percent less than her non-Black and/or male peers.”
The suit claims that after two co-workers complained about Newman to human resources, she was given a final written warning in September 2019. When she tried to explain her version of events, she says her explanations were “disregarded and dismissed.” She also claims that after she made a formal complaint of discrimination, Live Nation responded by saying she was the one that created the “hostile work environment.”
Newman’s suit says it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that Live Nation management told her that her complaints were found to be unsubstantiated, but that the company was continuing to “investigate the alleged complaints against her.”
Newman is suing for compensatory and punitive damages for unlawful racial and gender discrimination and retaliation and is additionally seeking unpaid wages and overtime for her misclassification as an exempt employee. She also wants “injunctive relief to help eradicate the discriminatory practices at Live Nation.”
In early spring, Live Nation underwent staff reductions due to the impact of COVID-19 as part of an effort to reduce costs by $600 million. In May, 20%of company employees across multiple divisions were furloughed.