Cast Member Lawsuit Against Disneyland Granted Class-Action Status
A lawsuit claiming Disneyland Cast Members were not earning a living wage has been granted class-action status by the Orange County Superior Court.
The lawsuit was filed in 2019 on behalf of five Cast Members alleging the Walt Disney Company violated Measure L. Measure L was approved by voters in 2018 and requires Anaheim resort businesses that receive tax subsidies and their subcontractors to pay employees a living wage. This living wage started at $15/hour and is going up by $1 each year until it reaches $18 in 2022. After that, raises will then be based on the cost of living index.
Attorney Randy Renick represents the Cast Members involved in the suit. He could not disclose how many Cast Members comprise the class but said it was in the thousands. This includes including both Cast Members directly employed by Disney and those working for contractors such as Sodexo.
Renick said, “I think the issues here are simple: The voters demanded that companies like Disney, who take public handouts, pay their workers a living wage. Disney should not get a pass.”
The lawsuit contends that Anaheim has been using tax dollars to pay off construction bonds for Disneyland’s Mickey and Friends parking garage. The taxes mostly come from Disney and the rest are from hotel bed taxes.
“All this was paid for with what Disney would have otherwise paid in taxes,” the lawsuit states. “The money Anaheim gave Disney was raised by the issuance of municipal bonds. The bonds are repaid with and secured by Disney taxes.
“Instead of going to the City for general purposes, almost all of Disney’s transient occupancy, sales and real property taxes go to payments on the bonds, which will not be paid off until 2036. Disney got a rebate of the best kind: it got its taxes back before it paid them.”
In 2018, Anaheim City Attorney Robert Fabela said that “although there are many moving parts to the bond transaction, it does not appear to incorporate a direct city subsidy.” The Walt Disney Company agrees with this.
According to a 2018 report prior to the approval of Measure L, more than 85% of union workers at Disneyland earned less than $15 an hour.