Disney Employees Claim Company Barred them From Pay Negotiations

From the Walt Disney World News and written by: Sean Sposato

In a lawsuit that has now spanned over three years, a group of women are claiming they’ve recently discovered evidence of a secret policy at The Walt Disney Company that violates California law.

The class action lawsuit alleged Disney pays women less than men for similar work and in new claims by the plaintiffs, it’s been alleged that the company has been violating a California law prohibiting workers from discussing wages. Now, the plaintiffs are wishing to amend their complaint to include a claim related to pay secrecy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to a joint case management statement filed within the last week, the plaintiffs are now raising a new issue based on “recently uncovered evidence that Disney has been violating California Labor Code section 232” with a uniform policy over pay secrecy.

“Policies regarding pay secrecy have been shown to negatively impact women workers’ pay because they systematically deprive female employees of the information they need to demand equal pay,” writes attorney Lori Andrus. “The opposite is also true: pay transparency closes the gender wage gap completely… Given the significant role that pay secrecy plays in suppressing women’s pay, it is appropriate for violations of Section 232 to be tried concomitantly with Plaintiffs’ other causes of action.”

Disney’s attorneys respond that they are still considering whether to oppose a “belated effort” to amend the complaint. But they do take a brief poke at the plaintiffs’ interpretation of Section 232 and through the use of italics signal where this fight might head. According to Felicia Davis, Disney’s attorney at Paul Hastings, the document that evidently lays out Disney’s pay secrecy policy “does not prohibit discussion of compensation among peers as a condition of employment and by no means establishes a cause of action under Labor Code Section 232.”

A spokesperson for Disney adds, “Disney does not prohibit its employees from talking about their pay and looks forward to proving the falsity of this latest plaintiff claim.”

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