Disney Slammed With Lawsuit by Hotel Workers for Alleged Wage and Labor Violations After Cutting Corners in California

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Mar 19, 2024

 A California lawsuit targets one of the state’s most magical places: Disneyland in Anaheim. The Walt Disney Company faces allegations of wage and labor violations at its theme park hotels.

Disney workers are filing a lawsuit, alleging that they earn less than fast food workers and are required to provide their own tools for the job. What does Disney have to say about it all? Let’s get into it.

Disney Hotel Workers Had to Provide Their Own Tools

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Orange County Superior Court alleges Disney forced workers to purchase their own tools and equipment for on-the-job use.

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However, payment is another point of contention for the hotel workers, who are seeking hefty compensation for their troubles.

Disney Wasn’t Paying the Correct Wages

The lawsuit also claims that Disney was not paying its hotel workers the correct wages. The state’s labor laws mandate that employers pay double the minimum wage rate for employers who do not supply the needed tools.

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The wage dispute also bleeds into the workers not receiving the corrected wages for overtime work.

Disney Hotel Workers Had to Work Another Job

With more than 100 Disney hotel maintenance workers in southern California allegedly earning less than fast-food workers, many of the employees had to work a second job to feed their families.

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“A ton of us have or had second jobs just to survive,” lead plaintiff Charlie Torres told FOX Business. “I was working 48-plus hours a week in the mornings at Disney and delivering pizzas five nights a week for Pizza Hut.”

The Claim Represents 116 Workers

The lawsuit also claims that Disney was not providing rest breaks or meal breaks to the hotel workers.  The proposed class action lawsuit is seeking at least $1 million in back pay for the workers.

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Assistant maintenance engineer Charlie Torres filed the proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of 116 maintenance workers and assistant maintenance engineers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Disney Seemingly Knows Better

“Mr. Torres and so many others are told to cover the expense of tools used on behalf of Disney who flouts the law and refuses to pay its workers what they’re due,” said Ron Zambrano, a lawyer for the proposed class, in a statement (via the Hollywood Reporter). “Disney is a massive company. They know the law.”

The entrance of the Disneyland Park covered in greenery

Source: Wikivoyage

Disney has not responded to several outlets that requested a statement from the company on this lawsuit.

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The Lawsuit Is Different from Other Class-Action Lawsuits

The California Private Attorneys General Act enables workers to file lawsuits against their employers for back wages and civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the state of California.

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Other class-action lawsuits require notification and certification of allegedly affected workers, but these types of claims do not.

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Disney’s Greed During a Time of Crisis

According to the complaint filed against the entertainment giant, Disney has failed to properly compensate workers in a “willful and deliberate” manner.

The vintage Disneyland sign outside of the theme park

Source: Library of Congress/Picryl

This complaint comes at a unique time for workers and employers in California. As many residents find themselves at a crossroads with a steadily increasing cost of living in the state, some flee to cheaper states like Texas or face the consequences of the expensive state.

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Poverty Is Affecting Most People in the Entertainment Industry

The poverty crisis in California has affected workers employed by major companies in the entertainment industry. After the summer of strikes in 2023 and the heightened inflation affecting theme park attendance, the entertainment industry is still struggling to stand.

A sidewalk view of the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride at Disneyland

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Unfortunately, this means that workers in theme parks and hotels are suffering the consequences of studios’ inability to strike a fair deal with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA for more than 100 days.

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Theme Park Employees Face Food and Housing Insecurity

The Hollywood Reporter states that a study conducted by the UCLA Labor Center found that poverty largely affects employees at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

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44 percent of the workers expressed worry about eviction from their homes, while over half stated they experienced food insecurity.

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The Entertainment Giant “Choose to be Cheap”

“Disney couldn’t be bothered to even pay for basic tools,” Zambrano said in a Thursday news release. “Disney is a massive company. They know the law. But just like their character Uncle Scrooge, they choose to be cheap.”

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This is one of the several class action lawsuits that Disney will be dealing with in the upcoming months.

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Another Disney Lawsuit Disputing Wages and Discrimination 

In 2019, a discrimination lawsuit accused Disney of systematically underpaying women. The lawsuit, believed to be the largest class ever suing under an Equal Pay Act claim, involves a diverse group of employees who worked across Disney’s movie productions, record labels, theme parks, and home distribution subsidiaries.

A close up of the statue of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse's hand with the Sleeping Beauty castle in the background

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The group of women employed by Disney between April 2015 and three months before the trial, which begins in October 2024, are leading the lawsuit.

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