In Disney's Magic Kingdom there is Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Frontierland, but the theme park may want to think about adding "Legal Land" to its attractions.
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The Walt Disney Company is facing two major lawsuits from workers -- one involving gender-based pay discrimination toward female employees and a second suit on pay equity at Disneyland.
On Wednesday following Disney's request to block the class-action lawsuit concerning unequal pay practices in Los Angeles Superior Court, the entertainment giant's "demurrer" (a written response to a complaint filed in a lawsuit that pleads for dismissal even if the facts alleged in the complaint were true, contending there is no legal basis for a lawsuit) was rejected.
This move paves the way for "discovery" (pretrial procedure where each party can obtain evidence from the other party), which could lead to the approval of a class-action suit. Walt Disney Studios employees LaRonda Rasmussen and Karen Moore began the legal action on April 3 in an attempt to gain back pay, lost benefits and other compensation.
If the class action were granted under California’s Equal Pay Act, it could involve thousands of women given that Disney employs 32,000 people at its park in Anaheim and nearly as many at its studio operations and headquarters in Burbank.
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A Walt Disney spokesperson tells FOX Business;
“Today's ruling merely deferred to a later point the decision whether plaintiffs’ individual claims are suitable for class action treatment. We look forward to making our case that they are not at that time.”
On Tuesday, a group of Disneyland workers filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the Anaheim resort is violating a 2018 city ballot measure by failing to pay its workers a living wage. The group claims Disneyland has violated the requirements of "Measure L," which mandates that any hospitality business located in Anaheim’s resort district and benefiting from a city subsidy must pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour.
Disney did agree with some union workers in 2018 to increase its minimum wage to $15. But the workers who filed suit say either through that agreement or through "Measure L" the raise for them has not occurred. "We kept looking at our paystub every week for the first month or two," Tom Bray, a bellman at the Disneyland Hotel, told LAist. "Eventually we figured, OK, they're not going to pay us."
The "Measure L" minimum wage rule applies to employers that receive publicly funded subsidies, such as tax rebates, from the City of Anaheim. Disney spokesperson Liz Jaeger told LAist, "The union coalition is well aware that the City Attorney has previously looked at this issue and clearly stated that Measure L does not apply to the Disneyland Resort."
Also on the legal docket for Disney is a long-running legal battle with Bill Nye "The Science Guy," which last week gained approval to proceed to trial.