Remember how Minnie Mouse had to wait 40 years longer than Mickey Mouse to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Turns out she may not be the only Disney employee being treated differently based on her gender. To mark Equal Pay Day, a law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co., alleging that the company systematically underpays its female employees.
One of the plaintiffs in the suit is financial analyst LaRonda Rasmussen, who discovered that six men with the same job title were being paid more than her, ranging from $16,000 per year to $40,000. After she complained, she was given a $25,000 raise but she alleges she still makes significantly less than her average male counterpart.
The suit, filed by the firm of Andrus Anderson LLP, claims that Disney’s corporate policies have created this inequity, including its purported use of previous salary data to set salaries for new hires–a common corporate practice that has been outlawed in some states, as it perpetuates the gender pay gap. The suit also alleges that Disney does not have an internal system to ensure equal pay for equal work. The firm currently represents two plaintiffs, Rasmussen and a woman named Karen Moore, but hopes to represent all women employed by the Walt Disney Studios in California since 2015.
“Like other companies that operate without transparency, consistency, and accountability, Disney’s leadership tends to value male workers more than female workers,” the suit alleges, as reported in Variety. “Taken together, Disney’s compensation policies, procedures, and practices are not valid, job-related, or justified by business necessity.”
In the U.K., where companies are now required to publicly release salary information, male employees at Disney are being paid 22% more than women, according to Deadline. A spokesperson for Disney responded to Variety saying: “The lawsuit is without merit and we will defend against it vigorously.”