9,000 Women to Sue Disney for Pay Disparity | lovebscott.com

A class action lawsuit that alleges that Disney paid 9,000 women less than their male counterparts is allowed to move forward, according to a judge.

via Variety:

The suit is the largest ever certified under California’s Equal Pay Act, which makes it illegal for workers to be paid less for substantially similar work based on their gender.

Lori Andrus, the plaintiffs’ attorney, applauded the ruling outside the courtroom in downtown Los Angeles.

“Disney has been gaslighting these women for four years,” she said. “They love their jobs. They love the brand. But they want to be respected and treated the way they should be in the workplace.”

Disney expressed disappointment in a written statement.

“We are disappointed with the court’s ruling as to the Equal Pay Act claims and are considering our options,” a company spokesperson said.

Judge Elihu M. Berle rejected Disney’s arguments that the case will so sprawling as to be unmanageable.

Disney’s attorney, Felicia Davis, argued that the plaintiffs are seeking to compare salaries across thousands of job groups, which reflect the decentralized decisions of thousands of managers.

The class includes female Disney employees who have worked for the company in California since April 1, 2015, in a non-union position below the level of vice president, and who have been assigned to a job family and level. It covers employees from the Disneyland hotels and theme park, the cruise line, the Disney film and TV studios, ABC, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and other units. It does not include Pixar, ESPN, Hulu, Fox, or FX.

Davis argued that just because two employees are in the same job family and level, that does not mean their work is “substantially similar.” She rattled off a long list of job titles — music producers, pastry chefs, nurses, architects, ride engineers, visual effects directors, security dog handlers, Star Wars social media managers — to argue that the class members were too diverse to merit certification.

“These are different segments, different business areas, in different locations,” she said. “They report to different managers. They are in completely different industries which pay completely differently.”

Davis argued that Disney will have to put on a massively complex defense at trial in order to show that any disparities were the result of allowable factors, such as education, training and experience.

“I know — it’s going to be horrendous,” Berle said, in a lightly mocking tone, challenging the argument that there is no efficient way to establish pay disparities across large groups. “You’re telling me Disney has no system of categorizing pay grade levels?”Both sides have retained experts to prove, or disprove, a gender pay gap. Andrus said that starting pay across the class is 2% lower for women than for men.

Andrus was also pursuing a parallel claim under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which would cover a broader group of 12,000 women.

Berle denied class certification on that claim. The claim rested in large part on the issue of using a new hire’s pay history as a factor in determining their starting salary. Andrus argued that practice discriminated against women.

Berle held that Disney managers were allowed — until 2017 — to use pay history as a factor, but not required to do so, and that therefore, there was no companywide policy to challenge.

Davis declined to comment outside court, referring questions to Disney.

A status conference is set for Feb. 9. The trial is expected to be held sometime before October, Andrus said.

We’re sure Disney is going to settle before this ever makes it to trial.

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