LOS ANGELES (CN) - A gender discrimination lawsuit has landed at the House of Mouse, as two female employees claim they receive far less pay than their male co-workers at the Walt Disney Company and they are hoping to have their case certified as a class action because they say the problem is widespread.
Disney, the entertainment conglomerate, now includes a roster with Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and most recently 20th Century Fox, with a bevy of intellectual properties, tent-pole blockbuster movie franchises and a group of 14 theme parks around the world.
LaRonda Rasmussen and Karen Moore, both longtime Disney employees, filed the equal pay complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, claiming their salaries are tens of thousands of dollars less than their male co-workers and management is aware of the pay gap.
Rasmussen has worked for Disney more than 11 years and watched as female employees were underpaid, passed over for promotions and given extra work without just compensation, according to the complaint.
Rasmussen, a product development manager, brought up the issue of unfair gender inequality to Disney’s human resources department in 2017 and after an audit the company gave her a raise, but said the ongoing pay disparity within the company “was not due to gender.”
At the time, her base salary was $109,958, much less than six other men with the same job title. On average, Rasmussen’s salary was about $26,000 less.
According to the audit, the lowest-paid manager received $16,000 more, while the highest-paid received almost $40,000 more than her salary. A recently hired male manager who had less experience than Rasmussen received $20,000 more than her, according to the complaint.
Two other female senior managers received equal pay raises around the same time, which Rasmussen says illustrates that Disney recognized a widespread pay disparity.
Meanwhile, Moore worked at Disney for 23 years and currently works as a senior copyright administrator in the studio’s music label. Moore said she was discouraged from applying for a manager’s position, which was later filled by a man. Moore said she thinks he is making more money than her but performing similar job duties.
The women allege the administrative body that decides initial pay, raises and bonuses is centralized within a “highly-concentrated and male-dominated management regime.”
Along with a lack of transparency over employee compensation, the women say this management regime determines an employee’s growth and future within the highly-structured company and that this goes on to benefit men.
With each major decision affecting an employee, Disney’s management considers previous salaries before joining Disney.
“In doing so, Disney’s hiring policies and practices perpetuated gender discrimination, since women’s salary history tends to reflect lower pay than men’s,” the women say.
Rasmussen and Moore are represented by San Francisco-based attorney Lori Andrus with Andrus Anderson.
In a statement, Disney said the allegations made in the complaint are uninformed and baseless.
"Even before California’s Fair Pay Act, Disney created a specialized team of Compensation professionals and lawyers to analyze and address the company’s pay equity practices," the company said, adding Rasmussen's and Moore's allegations will be found baseless.
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