Former and current Disney employees have filed a lawsuit against the entertainment giant, alleging pay discrimination against women in the US state of California. The company has denied the claim.
On Friday, a group of plaintiffs filed the complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, asking the judge to certify their lawsuit as a class action case covering around 12,500 current and former full-time female Disney employees.
The attorneys claim that the company has remunerated female staff on average 2% less than their male colleagues holding equivalent posts – a disparity in breach of California’s Equal Pay Act.
The lawsuit relies on an analysis of Disney’s human resources data from 2015 to 2022 compiled by Professor David Neumark from the University of California, Irvine.
According to the study, which deals with non-union employees below vice-president level from Disney Studios, parks and resorts, its music label, and other departments, the entertainment corporation owes more than 10,000 women around $151.6 million.
The case was originally initiated in 2019 by LaRonda Rasmussen, a product development manager for the company. She alleged that there was an “egregious gender pay gap that appears to be ingrained in Disney’s culture.”
The woman claimed that six men with the same title were receiving between $16,000 to nearly $40,000 more than her.
Other plaintiffs who joined the legal action later on have accused the company of denying them promotions and giving them smaller raises than men, among other things.
Lori Andrus, an attorney for the women, said, “it’s high time that Disney gets serious about addressing the persistent gender wage gap that we have now documented.”
Shawna Swanson, an associate general counsel and head of the employment law function for Disney, has strongly denied the allegations.
“The plaintiffs’ assertions about an alleged pay gap between women and men are simply false, which we will demonstrate through the litigation,” she said.
The entertainment giant previously claimed to have “robust pay equity practices and policies.”
In recent years, several major corporations, including Google and Goldman Sachs, have been hit with similar lawsuits, revolving around gender discrimination in salary and promotions.