A former top official of Leawood-based American Multi-Cinema Inc. says she was fired after she pointed out disparities between her pay and that of her male counterparts.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Tonya Mangels, who was vice president-product marketing before her termination on Sept. 30, says male vice presidents at AMC were paid between 56% and 72% more than she was and received bigger stock grants. The pay difference amounted to between $117,000 and $149,000, according to her complaint.
AMC, the biggest multiplex chain in the world, operates theaters in 15 countries. The company reported $5.5 billion in revenue in 2018 and $110 million in net earnings.
Mangels, who worked at AMC for 10 years and was promoted to vice president in 2013, says she managed the company’s second largest budget and counted the second highest number of employees on her team.
And although her complaint alleges she was consistently rated one of AMC’s highest-performing executives in annual reviews, her requests to have her compensation raised to the level of her male colleagues were ignored, she alleges.
As a result of her complaints, Mangels says, she received a “does not meet expectations” review for 2018. Her superior “acknowledged that her performance was ‘superior,’ but he explained that he needed to ‘send a message’ to (Plaintiff),” Mangels’ complaint says.
In May, Mangels filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That, she said, led AMC to falsely accuse her of providing advance knowledge to her team about impending job cuts at AMC – part of the company’s “continuing effort to generate a pretextual basis for terminating Plaintiff,” according to the complaint.
After a failed mediation session, she was fired on Sept. 30, supposedly because she tipped off her team about the impending reduction in force.
Mangels was not available for comment. Her attorney, Chad Beaver, said she “looks forward to the opportunity to share her story, but she does not plan to comment further at this time beyond what is already alleged” in the lawsuit.
AMC officials did not return calls and an email seeking comment on Mangels’ lawsuit.
Mangels is seeking back and front pay, as well as punitive damages, for unlawful discrimination and retaliation under the Equal Pay Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A similar complaint was filed in December 2016 in Georgia by a female marketing executive, Crystal Trawick, at Carmike Cinemas, which AMC acquired at the end of 2016.
Last month, a jury awarded Trawick $67,118 for lost pay and $1 million in punitive damages. The jury found that Carmike had paid her less than a similarly situated male employee and that her sex was a “motivating factor” in the determination of her compensation.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.