Update: Catt Sadler's struggle for equal pay is being as championed as part of the #TimesUp movement. At the E!News red carpet at the 2018 Golden Globes, Debra Messing directly called out the network for not paying Sadler the same amount as her co-host, Jason Kennedy.
This story was originally published on 20th December 2017, at 12:05 p.m.
We have a new inspiration in the battle for equal pay. E! News anchor Catt Sadler left the network on Tuesday when her employer refused to pay her the same salary as her co-host, Jason Kennedy. In an open letter to viewers on her personal website, she explained why she made this difficult decision.
"I know first hand that dreams do come true," begins Sadler, who was the host of Daily Pop and the nightly E! News show. "For the past twelve years, I've been living mine out loud as one of the hosts on E television."
Sadler said that earlier this year, around the same time that E! launched Daily Pop, a two-hour live show, an unnamed executive at the network told her that there was a "significant pay disparity" between Kennedy and herself. When the time came to renew her contract, she found out just how significant.
"In fact, he was making close to double my salary for the past several years," Sadler wrote. Was this because he was more experienced than she was? Did he host more shows? Sadly, no. They started at the network at the same time and their responsibilities were pretty much the same, she said. Yet, when she tried to get a deal that matched his, the network refused.
"[N]ot only did [E!] refuse to pay me as much as my male counterpart, but they didn’t come close — nowhere close, not even remotely close,” she told People. She decided two weeks ago to take a stand and leave.
E! released a statement to Refinery29, addressing Sadler's account: "E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender. We appreciate Catt Sadler’s many contributions at E! News and wish her all the best following her decision to leave the network."
One small fact in E! defense is that Kennedy had more duties as a red carpet correspondent, though it's difficult to say whether that meant he did twice as much work as Sadler.
Though she is scared for the future, particularly as the single mother of two boys, Sadler said she decided to follow the example of her heroes and stand up for her equal rights. Sadler is joining the likes of other high-profile women like Jennifer Lawrence and Robin Wright in the battle to get paid the same as their male counterparts.
"I didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled,' " Lawrence wrote in Lenny Letter in 2015, explaining why she never asked for higher pay. So far, it seems being "difficult" has had mixed results. Charlize Theron said she demanded it on a role and got it. Wright basically had to go public about making less than Kevin Spacey for House of Cards before she finally got a better deal. Emma Stone said her male co-stars have taken pay cuts so that she could make the same as they did — which, why is it up to the actors to do this and not the actual producers and studio heads? Now, it seems that Sadler asked for more and just didn't get it.
"How can we make it better for the next generation of girls if we do not stand for what is fair and just today?" she wrote.
As upset as she was by having to make this decision, Sadler made a point not to blame Kennedy, telling People, "[T]he system’s the problem, the structure’s the problem."
Kennedy hasn't said anything publicly about her salary issue, but he made her a cheesy and moving goodbye Twitter video on Tuesday before she left.
Sadler is confident this isn't the last we'll see of her.
"I will find more work," she wrote. "I will create content with meaning. I will continue to pursue my passions while making my children proud. The way I see it, I have an obligation to be an agent for change."
Refinery29 has reached out to Sadler, E!, and Kennedy for comment.