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Gender pay lawsuit against Walt Disney is expanded to include pay secrecy claim

The Walt Disney Co. headquarters in Burbank.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

A group of women suing the Walt Disney Co. for pay discrimination has expanded its claims against the Burbank-based studio to include allegations of pay secrecy at the company.

In its fourth amended complaint, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the group said Disney prohibits employees from disclosing their own wages, discussing the pay of others or inquiring about another employee’s compensation in violation of California labor law. Some of the plaintiffs also claim to have been instructed multiple times not to talk about their compensation, with one alleging that another employee had been disciplined for sharing their pay information with others at the company.

Disney denied the allegation.

“Disney does not prohibit its employees from talking about their pay and looks forward to proving the falsity of this latest plaintiff claim,” Disney said in a statement.

The case, brought by San Francisco law firm Andrus Anderson, is seeking class action status. It is being closely tracked as Hollywood and tech companies face allegations of disparities in the treatment of women.

The lawsuit accuses Disney of several alleged instances in which female employees complained that they were paid substantially less than men performing similar duties. The women, most of whom work in Disney’s Burbank and Glendale offices, have demanded a jury trial.

Two female Disney employees, LaRonda Rasmussen and Karen Moore, first sued the company in April 2019, claiming the studio violated the state’s equal pay act by paying women less than men doing similar work. The group, alleging “rampant gender pay discrimination,” has expanded to include a total of 10 women.

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Two female employees sued Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday, alleging the company is violating the state’s equal pay act and paying women less than men doing similar work.

In the latest amendment, first reported by the New York Times, the plaintiffs said California labor law prohibits companies from requiring, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from disclosing the amount of his or her wages or discharging, formally disciplining or otherwise discriminating against any employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.

They are seeking salary increases, back pay, damages and adjustments to salaries of other female employees who may also be affected. The group also has asked Disney to create a task force on equity and fairness.

Disney has previously said that it is “firmly committed to equitable pay and maintains robust pay-equity practices and policies,” adding that the lawsuit’s claims are “ill-informed and unfounded, and we look forward to presenting our response to the individual claims in court at the appropriate time.”


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