The Walt Disney Company is trying to stop a class action lawsuit by a group of women claiming that Disney has violated the California Fair Pay Act. Disney is arguing that the company is so large a suit by ten women is not representative.
In April, two woman sued Disney claiming that they were paid less than men who perform similar work. LaRonda Rasmussen was a product development manager at the Walt Disney Studios, while Karen Moore worked for two decades as a senior copyright administrator at Disney’s Hollywood Records.
When Disney indicated that they intended to challenge the class action lawsuit claiming that Rasmussen and Moore couldn’t fairly represent all women at the company, eight more women were added as plaintiffs. Ginia Eady-Marshall, Enny Joo, Rebecca Train, Amy Hutchins, Nancy Dolan, Anabel Pareja Sinn, Dawn Johnson and Kathy Ly each represent different divisions of the company.
According to the amended complaint:
“Because Disney’s pay practices negatively affect their female co-workers throughout the state, Plaintiffs bring this case as a class action.”
Disney is still not satisfied that the ten woman can represent all female employees and has filed a motion asking the judge to rule that they can’t continue as a group.
The filing states:
“The Walt Disney Company described in Plaintiffs’ Complaint is not The Walt Disney Company that exists in fact and law. The Disney Companies categorically deny that they pay any female employee less than her similarly situated male coworkers and will vigorously defend themselves against each Plaintiff’s individual claims. But that is all this case is — an assortment of individual claims, based on highly individualized allegations.”
To continue, lawyers for the plaintiffs have to prove that there is a “community of interest” with the class that is being represented.
Disney’s response also addresses that:
“The comparisons Plaintiffs seek to make — across different jobs, different levels, and with potentially unspecified other differences — would demand an individual-by-individual review of the duties, skills, effort, responsibility, and working conditions of each woman in every job, compared to each man in every job, to identify the correct comparator pool.”
Disney claims that differences in wages could be due to any number of things, including seniority, merit, or a “bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training or experience.”
Disney’s brief continues:
“For one putative class member, the Disney Companies may argue that she lacks the job critical prior experience of a male colleague. For another putative class member, the Disney Companies may argue that she lacks important education or training required for the job. For many others, no defense will be necessary at all because the female employee will be the highest paid among her peers.”
A hearing is scheduled for December 11th.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter