Does Disney “underpay: and “undervalue” women?

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Women in Disney

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Recently, ten women have accused The Walt Disney Company of gender discrimination. This accusation comes as part of a major class-action pay gap case which has expanded to include Disney’s partner companies, ABC Television and Disney’s film studio.

One of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies is now facing the wage inequality lawsuit that claims divisions across the Walt Disney Company systematically mistreats women. Women are claiming they get lower salaries than male colleagues doing equivalent work and are denying women promotions.

As of Wednesday, September 28, four more women have now come forward and filed a new complaint in Los Angeles. The compliment states the struggles these women are facing, including equal pay. These claims of unlawful discrimination are against Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Disney’s music label, ABC Television’s music department, and the company’s finance department.

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In a statement to the Guardian, Nancy Dolan, one of the new plaintiffs, stated, “Being underpaid and undervalued year after year has a very real cumulative effect, financially…It’s also demoralizing and emotionally draining. It’s time for Disney to join the dozens of California companies who have pledged to pay their women workers fairly.”

Dolan has been employed by Disney’s film studio for 18 years. Since 2015, she has been a senior manager of creative music marketing. It’s been reported that her supervisor has repeatedly stated Dolan’s job responsibilities were the same as someone several steps above her current title and that a promotion was “long overdue.”

Walt Disney Company
Credit: Disney

In 2016, Dolan’s performance review stated she was “operating easily at director level, if not higher.” In 2018, her review said she was working at “vice-president level” and was an “unparalleled expert in her field.” However, the suit states that Disney HR refused to promote her despite one review that claims, “Her contribution to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ alone resulted in the most substantial music marketing campaign in recent years and yielded global success.”

It has also been reported that at one point, HR allegedly told Dolan that she couldn’t be promoted from manager to director because she would be skipping a level. Shortly after, two of her male coworkers were promoted in that exact same manner.  Dolan asked Disney about this, in which they responded that one of the coworkers was promoted because he was more of a “retention risk,” since he was younger, the suit said.

Anabel Pareja Sinn, another new plaintiff, has worked for Hollywood Records as a senior designer from 2006 to 2017. She states she was doing equivalent work to a male coworker, but he was classified as an art director and he made significantly more money, the suit said.

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Credit: D23

In a recent email to the Guardian, Sinn explained that if the Walt Disney Company took this issue seriously, it could have widespread implications: “Disney has such influence in our country, and in the world. If Disney leads the way for gender equity, all women in the workforce will be better off.”

Dawn Wisner-Johnson, a third new plaintiff, worked for Disney’s ABC Television music branch until 2017. Wisner-Johnson worked as a manager, but was performing director-level duties and was still denied a raise, the suit said.

The fourth new plaintiff, Kathy Ly, worked as an analyst in the finance marketing department from March 2017 to March 2018. She worked a steady 55 – 60 hours per week and received a lot of positive performance feedback, but she made less than her male coworkers, who were doing the same work. Ly explained she was given a “much lower raise than her male counterpart” without valid reason, the suit said.

The Walt Disney Company
Credit: Disney

Since April 2015, the class-action seeks to represent all women employed full-time by Disney in California. It is now escalating at a time in which there’s intense pay gaps in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the media industry, and other areas.

There was an earlier filing back in July which included accusations against Disney Music Publishing, Walt Disney Imagineering, a business division responsible for ESPN and Hulu, a division that works on projects for the theme parks, resorts, cruises and venues, and the Hollywood Records label (which has been signed by Demi Lovato, Zendaya, and Miley Cyrus).

On September 18, Lori Andrus, an attorney for the women, stated in an interview “There’s trepidation about coming forward, but all of them felt like they had no other option.”

Andrus explained it was extremely difficult for some of the women to see how the company was valuing the men over them without justification. “Sometimes the men are younger. Sometimes the men are not as good performers. Sometimes they are not as experienced. And they are just being promoted because of their potential.”

“They’re getting great performance reviews and being told to wait a year while they are watching male colleagues skip steps and move up more quickly,” Andrus stated.

It was not easy to come forward, Andrus explained. “All of them love Disney, they love the work they do, the people they work with.” But going public in court was the only step they had left after reaching dead ends internally, she said: “They’ve tried everything.”

Disney has not immediately responded to requests for comment on the new complaint and plaintiffs. The Walt Disney Company has previously stated the lawsuit was “without merit” and that the corporation had “robust pay equity practices and policies”.

Source: The Guardian

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