A Los Angeles court has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and will allow a potential class action pay equity lawsuit to move forward against The Walt Disney Company, despite the mega corporation’s best attempts to kill it.
The ruling was made on December 11th by Judge Daniel Buckley, who rejected Disney’s demurrer. Though the lawsuit has not yet received class action certification; however, with discovery being the next phase of the lawsuit, he warned that this rejection “does not mean they get blanket discovery into everything and anything.”
“Their theory is women are paid less than men, you know exactly what they are complaining about. Discovery will flesh out how you address the different categories of employees or different categories of sub-classes.”
Felicia Davis, the main legal representative for The Walt Disney Company, attempted to argue that due to the range and reach of Disney’s operations, there were too many unknowns and variables, or “moving targets,” for Disney to be able to properly defend itself. This argument was rejected by Judge Buckley.
Speaking on Wednesday, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, Lori Andrus, stated that the lawsuit concerns “billions of dollars being kept out of the California economy.”
“Disney’s arguments all concern class certification and all go to cut this lawsuit off at the knees …and prevent the court form doing it complete analysis. We allege that this problem of pay discrepancy run throughs Disney’s business. This is a matter of billions of dollars being kept out of the California economy.”
A Walt Disney Company spokesperson also gave a generic comment on the ruling, telling Deadline:
“Today’s ruling merely deferred to a later point the decision whether plaintiffs’ individual claims are suitable for class action treatment. We look forward to making our case that they are not at that time.”
The lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company was filed on April 2nd by two female employees, LaRonda Rasmussen and Karen Moore, who were seeking “back pay, front pay, lost benefits, and other damages for lost compensation and job benefits” and for Disney to take further action to achieve gender equality, including implementing programs that will “remedy the effects of Disney’s past and present unlawful employment policies practices, and procedures.”