December 13, 2012 6:32pm PT by Alex Ben Block
Disney Settles Class Action Suit But Still Faces Court Date
A claim against the Walt Disney Co. for intentionally failing to pay about 30 current and former employees overtime wages and provide breaks they were entitled to has been settled out of court, but a class action suit was still filed Thursday so that a L.A. Superior Court judge can certify the settlement, according to Dennis Moss, an attorney in the case.
The Walt Disney Co. will not admit any liability, according to Moss, but will pay a settlement and penalties that he would not specify. The case is expected to go before the judge to be certified sometime in 2013.
A Disney corporate spokesman did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.
Moss represents Katherine Clay, who in the suit says she was a senior financial analyst for Disney. She and all of those involved work or worked in various business-related non-managerial jobs such as contract and rights analyst, legal rights residuals analyst, production library analyst in participation and other jobs in the department that processes participation, royalties and residual payments.
Moss describes the class action suit as a follow-up to another class action suit filed by Joseph Peralta and Pamela Ventura in late 2010 on behalf of 36 salaried employees who worked in a related department, who argued they had been incorrectly classified as managers or “exempt employees” between July 2004 and August 2010. That suit was filed in 2011.
The latest case involves higher-level workers and covers the period of Dec. 1, 2006, through July 20, 2012.
Clay’s suit says most of the employees were actually non-exempt. In her case, Clay says that she was “misclassified” as “exempt,” which was Disney’s excuse to not pay her overtime and for giving her deadlines that made it impossible for her to take lunch and other breaks to which she was entitled under California labor law.
“The failure to pay those class members all overtime sums owing to them upon termination of their employment was willful, and therefore those class members are also entitled to relief,” says the suit.
In addition to whatever they are owed in unpaid wages, California labor law also requires the payment of penalties that range from $50 to $200 for each incident and for each employee. The law says that 75 percent of the penalties should be paid to the Labor and Work Force Development Agency, which is part of the state’s Department of Industrial Relations.
The other 25 percent of the penalties and all of the unpaid wages will be split among those who sued and their lawyers.
In the earlier case, all of the employees' names were listed, and that led to some of them having problems at work. So in the latest case, the only name listed is that of Clay, who no longer works for Disney.