- Four women employed by The Walt Disney Co. joined a class action lawsuit July 5 alleging the existence of a gender pay gap at the company, according to a press release from Andrus Anderson LLP, the law firm representing the employees. The suit, originally filed with the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County back in April, alleges Disney routinely paid women less than men in similar jobs and denied them promotions, keeping them at titles and pay levels below those warranted by their job responsibilities (Rasmussen v. The Walt Disney Company, et. al., No. 19STCV10974).
- The allegations target several company divisions. Andrus Anderson LLP said each of the four women who joined the suit last week had "glowing performance reviews" yet had their careers "stymied by gender discrimination." The newly joining employees include Enny Joo, who claimed in the suit that she hadn't been promoted since 2000 despite being asked to head up all creative marketing campaigns for Disney record label Hollywood Records, and Ginia Eady-Marshall, a senior manager at Disney Music Publishing who alleged her current salary was at the low end of the pay range for her title — at times more than $25,000 less than male employees performing the same or substantially similar work.
- Four of the six named plaintiffs in the suit are women of color, per the filing. Disney responded to the initial April filing of the suit in a statement to The Guardian: "The lawsuit is without merit and we will defend against it vigorously," the company said.
The class action suit against Disney is one of many high-profile allegations of pay inequity against top U.S. companies, and it also comes amid heightened discussion of gender pay gaps in the aftermath of the 2019 Women's World Cup.
Other class representatives in the Disney suit include employees LaRonda Rasmussen and Karen Moore. Rasmussen alleged that Disney paid her less than what the lowest paid men with the same title earned and, after asking the company to consider whether she was being paid equally, Disney HR told her that her pay amount "was not due to gender," according to the filing. Moore alleged she was discouraged from applying to a manager position that was later given to a man after being converted to a senior manager position.
Employee advocates have increasingly called for pay transparency. Mandatory wage reporting via government regulations could prove effective at reducing the prevalence of some gaps; research by Morten Bennedsen of the University of Copenhagen, found that mandatory wage reporting in Denmark shrunk the gender-based pay gap. Although studies have shown that not all workers are comfortable disclosing their own salaries, HR can take steps to inform employees about wage calculations and why workers are paid what they are.