July 4, 2023
The Walt Disney Co. has paid its women employees in middle management at least $150 million less than men in substantially similar positions, according to a lawsuit filed by a group of current and former Disney employees, who on Friday asked a Los Angeles judge for class treatment.
The women, who first filed the proposed class action in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2019, claim that Disney has been systematically paying women employees in California less than men for substantially similar jobs, in violation of the Fair Employment & Housing Act and California’s Equal Pay Act.
“Disney routinely underpays its female employees, passes them over for promotion, piles on extra work without additional compensation, and does not supply sufficient support staff to allow women to succeed at their jobs,” according to the operative complaint filed by LaRonda Rasmussen, Karen Moore, Virginia Eady-Marshall, Enny Joo, Rebecca Train, Amy Hutchins, Nancy Dolan, Pareja Sinn, Dawn Johnson and Chelsea Hanke.
The estimate that women have been paid at least $150 million less than men in similar positions comes from an expert report prepared this month by David Neumark, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, who has done research on labor market discrimination.
Disney itself is organized into segments, which are further divided into different business divisions, but all are subject to the company’s centralized employment policies and practices, according to the report. Overall, Neumark found that Disney paid women 2% less, the report states.
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The plaintiffs are represented by Lori Andrus of Andrus Anderson LLP, Joseph M. Sellers, Christine E. Webber and Phoebe Wolfe of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and James Kan, Byron Goldstein and Stephanie E. Tilden of Goldstein Borgen Dardarian & Ho.