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Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

Gene Maddaus

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The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action.

Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on women. The firm represents 10 plaintiffs who allege they are paid tens of thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts.

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In a demurrer filed on Friday, Disney denied that women are paid less than men at the company. Disney also argued that the plaintiffs’ “anecdotal” claims cannot form the basis of a class action covering tens of thousands of employees across dozens of departments.

“No California court has certified a pay class action under any law that seeks to include such an enormous number of women who work (or worked) in such markedly different jobs, requiring markedly different skills, effort and responsibility, across such markedly different lines of business,” Disney’s lawyers wrote.

In response, plaintiffs’ attorney Lori Andrus argued that Disney’s massive scale is not a defense.

“The argument is essentially akin to a ‘too big to fail’ argument,” Andrus told Variety, saying the defense amounts to, “We’re such a big company, it’s impossible for us to follow the law.”

Andrus noted that several other companies — including Apple, Uber and Intel — have pledged to do a yearly salary review to ensure they are treating women fairly.

“Disney could fix this if they wanted to,” she said.

Los Angeles Judge Daniel J. Buckley is set to hear arguments on the demurrer on Dec. 11.

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