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Boys, boys, boys: Disney sued for allegedly underpaying female employees

Boys, boys, boys: Disney sued for allegedly underpaying female employees
One of the world’s leading entertainment companies, the Walt Disney Company, has been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging that it routinely pays its male employees more than females.

The lawsuit was brought by the San Francisco-based firm Andrus Anderson on behalf of two women and seeks to represent all female employees of California’s Walt Disney Studios since 2015. According to the suit, Disney’s policies have a discriminatory effect on women, including how salaries are set for new hires, and accuses the company of failing to ensure women are paid the same as men for the same job.

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“Like other companies that operate without transparency, consistency, and accountability, Disney’s leadership tends to value male workers more than female workers,” the lawsuit states. “Taken together, Disney’s compensation policies, procedures and practices are not valid, job-related, or justified by business necessity.”

According to the complaint, reported in Variety magazine, financial analyst LaRonda Rasmussen has worked for Disney for the last 11 years. In 2017, Rasmussen raised the issue of her pay with human resources after discovering that six men who shared the same job title were being paid more than her. The concern claimed the pay disparities ranged from $16,000 per year to $40,000.

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In November 2018, she was given a $25,000 raise, but the suit alleges that she still makes significantly less than her average male counterpart. It also suggests that the fact two other female employees were also given sizable payment raises around the same time is indicative of a dawning awareness of a systemic issue.

Disney spokesman said the lawsuit is “without merit” and vowed to “defend against it vigorously.”

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The Andrus Anderson law firm has previously taken on gender pay discrimination suits against Intel and Farmers Insurance.

In 2018, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar creative officer John Lasseter was forced to step down over sexual assault allegations made by former employees. In an email he has also apologized for having distributed “unwanted hugs” to colleagues.

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