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Pay Secrecy Part of Disney Equal Pay Act Case

In 2019, two female Disney employees sued the company for violating California’s equal pay act by paying its male employees more than its female employees. Since that time, eight more women have joined the lawsuit. Now, the women have amended their lawsuit to include a claim that Disney maintains a “strict policy of pay secrecy.” The women allege that their Disney supervisors told them on multiple occasions “never to speak about their compensation.” One of the women claims to have direct knowledge of a female employee disciplined for disclosing pay information. Pay secrecy has been shown to make it harder for women to achieve pay equity. In their complaint, the women allege that pay transparency could close the gender wage gap completely.

The National Labor Relations Act makes it illegal under federal law for private employers to retaliate against employees who discuss wages with colleagues as part of an effort toward beneficial policies. The California Fair Pay Act expressly allows employees to openly discuss their own salaries. Employers may not enact policies that preclude employees from sharing their wages with other employees.

Disney responded to the complaint with a statement asserting it “does not prohibit its employees from talking about their pay and looks forward to proving the falsity of this latest plaintiff claim.” The parties are currently engaging in the discovery process.