Hours after Sadler hosted her last live broadcast on Tuesday, she took to her personal website, TheCattwalk, where she explained her reasoning for her departure. “E reached out to renew and extend my deal, I learned that he wasn’t just making a little more than I was. In fact, he was making close to double my salary for the past several years,” she wrote about co-host Jason Kennedy earning double her salary. “My team and I asked for what I know I deserve and were denied repeatedly.”
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.”
After learning about Sadler’s exit, Jessica Chastain took to Twitter Wednesday to condemn E! and the gender pay gap: “WOW this is so disappointing. When are companies like @e_entertainment going to understand that women should be paid fairly. 1/2 of her male counterpart is not appropriate.”
Former E! News host Maria Menounos also praised Sadler. “I know this wasn’t easy…good for you,” she tweeted.
Billie Jean King, legendary tennis champion and icon of the equal-rights movement, applauded Sadler for her bravery, tweeting, “I applaud @iamcattsadler for her bravery in leaving E!. Big moves like hers help create the earthquake from which real change is born. Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Full stop. #standupspeakout #genderequality #equalpay.”
Real Housewives of Orange County star Meghan King Edmonds took to Instagram where she posted a lengthy caption, in which she expressed her outrage and disgust over the pay disparity, alongside a screenshot of Sadler’s exit interview with PEOPLE.
“As a reality tv personality on @bravotv , sister network to @eentertainment , I am outraged and disgusted that such a pay disparity between male and female exists, especially on a network that MAKES THE MAJORITY OF ITS MONEY OFF AND FROM WOMEN. For E! to dismiss @iamcattsadler request for equal pay is more than a shame, it shows us all how little they value women. I am proud of Catt for sharing her story of persecution based on her gender and for leaving the network,” wrote Edmonds.
“Bigger and better things are on the horizon for those who speak up and stand up! (Catt and Jason started at E! at the same time and generally share the same responsibilities however he makes almost double her salary. When confronted, E! refused to increase Catt’s pay to reflect her equal talent and service to Jason’s so she resigned.) #StandUpToThePatriar,” the Bravo personality continued.
Actress Olivia Munn also vocalized her support of Sadler in a tweet. “Damn, Catt,” she wrote. “It’s so disappointing to find out that @enews- a network that depends on female viewers- felt your value was worth only half of your male counterpart. It’s not easy to do what you did and I’m so proud of you for it. How will anyone know you’re worth it, if you don’t?”
Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence — who sparked an ongoing conversation when she slammed the gender pay inequality in Hollywood in an essay titled “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co Stars?” — thanked the single mother of two for making the difficult decision when she took to Facebook on Wednesday to repost Sadler’s statement in full and wrote, “Thank you Catt for sharing your story.”
Upon learning that Kennedy, 36, was being paid double her salary, Sadler admitted to PEOPLE that she was both “in shock” and felt insulted, and ultimately decided two weeks ago that she would depart from the network.
“It’s almost insulting because you know you work really hard. I’m a single mom of two kids. I’ve given my all to this network. I’ve sacrificed time away from my family and I have dedicated my entire career to this network. And when you learn something like that, it makes you feel very small and underappreciated and undervalued,” she shared. “It’s heartbreaking.”
But Sadler asserted that the pay disparity is not Kennedy’s “fault.”
“Jason Kennedy is one of my best friends in the whole wide world. He is like a brother to me. And in no way do I want this to reflect poorly on him,” she explained. “He’s devastated, I think, and I think he believes that this is a great loss for the network. He does not want to see me go. Jason is a class act … It’s important that people don’t vilify him because he isn’t the problem — the system’s the problem, the structure’s the problem. And I really do mean that. Because that’s been a hard part of this whole thing because I love him dearly. And to be honest, he has been such a champion for me in every sense. But it’s not his decision.”
While the decision to part ways from the place she has called home for more than a decade was a difficult one, Sadler is focused on “this obligation that I now have, which very much informed my decision that I too have to be an agent of change.”
“If I stay and do the easy thing, I don’t serve myself and I don’t serve every other female in the world,” said Sadler.
“It’s like I now feel inspired and empowered by these women before me who refused to be silent,” she said, referencing Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. “And I now join them in what I believe to be a very important movement towards creating change.”