The Walt Disney Company faces equal pay lawsuit in California


The Walt Disney Company is to face a putative class action lawsuit on the issue of equal pay, with plaintiffs alleging that the organisation’s gender pay gap is ingrained in its culture.

Rasmussen v The Walt Disney Company et al is being brought by law firm Andrus Anderson on behalf of all female employees working at The Walt Disney Company’s Studio Entertainment division in California. It seeks pay parity between male and female employees.

The lawsuit, which was filed on 3 April 2019, argues that the Walt Disney Company engages in systemic gender discrimination against female staff through unequal pay; this is in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, Labor Code section 1197.5.

The initial plaintiff, LaRonda Rasmussen, alleges that, until 2017, she earned at least $24,000 (£18,342.24) less than an average male employee with the same job title of manager, product development. Rasmussen raised this with the employer and was awarded a pay rise, but claims that she is still earning $5,000 (£3,821.30) less than her male counterparts. Her experience is mirrored by other plaintiffs involved in the case.

Rasmussen has worked at The Walt Disney Company for more than 11 years.

Lori E Andrus, attorney at Andrus Anderson, said: “As Disney nears its 100th year in existence, it needs to catch up with the times. The gender pay gap addressed by this lawsuit is all too familiar, and women are fed up with being treated as cheap labour.

“We hope that this lawsuit will shed some light on the pay discrimination that Disney is subjecting its hardworking female employees to. It is only fair to demand equal pay for equal work.”

A spokesperson at The Walt Disney Company added: “The lawsuit’s uninformed generalised allegations about Disney’s policies and practices are baseless. In point of fact, Disney maintains robust pay equity practices and policies. Even before California’s Fair Pay Act, Disney created a specialised team of compensation professionals and lawyers to analyse and address the [organisation’s] pay equity practices.  As to the individual claims, we are confident that they will be found to be meritless when tested against the evidence, rather than the rhetoric of the complaint.”