February 07, 2018 02:06 PM

When it comes to Catt Sadler and E!, Alicia Quarles isn’t picking sides.

“I was torn,” the former New York correspondent for E! News admitted to PEOPLE at the Women’s Day Red Dress Awards Tuesday night. “Because I had a beautiful experience at E!, I know Catt did as well, but I know it’s hard when you’re doing the work and you’re not being paid the same as your male counterpart, so I also commend her for speaking up and telling her truth.”

Quarles left E! in 2015, but, “I had a good experience there,” she said. “And I think for most of her years, [Catt] did as well.”

Alicia Quarles (left) and Catt Sadler
Bryan Bedder/Getty; Amanda Edwards/WireImage

But all good things must come to an end. “And then it came to a crescendo with this,” she said, referring to the salary scandal that erupted at the end of 2017 when Sadler left the network. “And [E! is] saying, ‘Look we’re gonna pay you what we’re gonna pay you,’ and she’s saying, ‘It’s not happening.’ She can tell her truth, too.”

Quarles, who now hosts Daily Mail TV, hasn’t spoken to Sadler since, “but I know she’s a really good person,” she said. “But I also know the E! side of it. So I just think you gotta stand up for yourself sometimes, and she did that.”

Sadler left E! after almost 12 years at the network in December when she said she learned that her male co-host, Jason Kennedy, was making double her salary and had been for several years. “Not 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 revealed.

(In a statement to PEOPLE, an E! spokesperson said on behalf of the network and Kennedy, “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.”)

Overall, Quarles said of women in Hollywood empowering one another, “I think it’s a beautiful, beautiful moment. I think it’s about time.”

As for Woman’s Day‘s Red Dress Awards, which honor heart health heroes working to help save women’s lives, Quarles had a very personal reason to attend.

“A couple of years ago my aunt passed away from heart disease,” she said. “My mother has it, it was her sister. I could one day have it. Just seeing phenomenal women suffer from this, you just have to do something.”

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