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Entertainment Weekly

TV

Catt Sadler on E! News pay gap: 'What happened to me was unfair'

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Catt Sadler went from reporting stories to being at the center of one. The former E! News host wrote an essay for Coveteur discussing her departure from the network and the “unfair” pay gap between her and former co-worker Jason Kennedy.

“You see, I didn’t start out on a crusade to be a voice for gender equality in the workplace,” Sadler said. “I didn’t have grandiose plans to organize powerful people and roar about equal pay. For me, at that time, it started out as simply the ‘right thing to do.'”

Sadler said she left the network over a “massive” gap between her salary and that of Kennedy. She explained how she “didn’t want to disappear from people’s television screens after all those years.” But, she continued, “it was important to explain how I had been wronged and how I knew in my core that to stay would mean collaborating with an evil system.”

E! defended the pay discrepancies between Sadler and Kennedy as celebrities like Debra Messing, Reese Witherspoon, and Eva Longoria called out the network live on the red carpet at the Golden Globes.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” E! chief Frances Berwick told reporters on the Television Critics Association tour. “Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries. Catt was focused on daytime. Jason Kennedy is on primetime evening news, plus red carpet. Our employees’ salaries are based on their roles and their expertise regardless of gender.”

Sadler responded to those claims in a previous interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying, “My experience, frustration, and disparity was based on Jason Kennedy and myself being apples to apples.”

“Swallowing my values was not an option. What happened to me was unfair,” she added to Coveteur. “After exhausting all attempts to make things right, I asked the decision makers face to face, ‘Why?’ ‘Why is he, in your opinion, worth so much more than I am? Is he doubly good at his job?’ Their response? ‘We’re obviously just looking through a different lens than you.’ Yes, the ‘he’s a male and therefore gets preferential treatment’ lens.

“Was I angry? Yes,” she continued. “Was I frustrated? Yes. Was I scared to step away from all that I had known and step into a whole new uncertain world? Absolutely! What has happened since I took that leap, though, is nothing less of remarkable.”

Sadler recalled being “moved to tears” when she saw celebrities speaking out in her defense on the red carpet.

“It’s awe-inspiring to witness Hollywood heavyweights organize and fight for what’s right in such a public way,” she said. “Females in all industries are challenging the system and joining the movement. Each day I hear from girls around the world, some still students, some just starting in the workplace, their mothers, their sisters, their cousins voicing their disapproval with the way things are and their hope for what is to come. This isn’t about one person, or a few — it’s about us. It’s about holding each other up as sisters, challenging the status quo, and refusing to accept less than what we deserve.”

Read Sadler’s full essay for Coveteur here.

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