Disney aims to block gender pay lawsuit from receiving class-action status

The Walt Disney Company asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Monday to block a group of 10 female employee suing over pay discrimination from receiving class-action status, arguing that their claims are too specific to apply to its entire workforce.

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A putative class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of two women last April accused Disney of engaging in gender-based pay discrimination toward female employees. The lawsuit later added an additional eight plaintiffs, all of whom worked at different divisions within Disney and are seeking lost wages and benefits, among other remedies.

In their amended lawsuit, lawyers for the 10 women sought class-action status “because Disney’s pay practices negatively affect their female co-workers throughout the state.” Attorney for Disney argue that the court should not grant class-action status because the women are not truly representative of a class of company employees, such as “cashiers or store managers,” who were allegedly receiving lower pay than their male counterparts.

"The Walt Disney Company described in Plaintiffs' Complaint is not The Walt Disney Company that exists in fact and law," Disney said in a filing first obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "The Disney Companies categorically deny that they pay any female employee less than her similarly situated male coworkers and will vigorously defend themselves against each Plaintiff's individual claims. But that is all this case is — an assortment of individual claims, based on highly individualized allegations."

A court hearing on whether the suit will receive class-action status is scheduled for Dec. 11. The lawsuit accuses Disney of violating the California Equal Pay Act.

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Disney said in statements last April that the lawsuit was “without merit.”

“The lawsuit’s uninformed generalized allegations about Disney’s policies and practices are baseless. Disney maintains robust pay equity practices and policies. Even before California’s Fair Pay Act, Disney created a specialized team of compensation professionals and lawyers to analyze and address the company’s pay equity practices,” the company said at the time.

Andrus Anderson, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, announced the expanded lawsuit in September. The lawyers alleged that one of the women, Nancy Dolan, earned roughly $30,000 than “the average senior manager at Disney.”

“The growing number of women employees stepping forward shows that unequal compensation for women seems to be engrained in Disney’s culture,” said pay gap attorney Lori E. Andrus. “Disney needs to take a long hard look at how it’s compensating its women employees. It is only fair that they be given equal pay for equal work.”

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