When one thinks of civil lawsuits, the name Walt Disney Company, does not come to mind very often. We do not usually think of The House of Mouse having anything to do with getting their hands dirty with anything. The creators of family friendly films for nearly a century found themselves in a class action lawsuit on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 along with Pixar, DreamWorks, LucasFilms, and ImageMovers (Johnson 2017).
Variety’s Ted Johnson reported on January 31st that “workers have reached a $100 million settlement with The Walt Disney Company, Pixar Animation Studios, LucasFilms, violated antitrust laws which conspired to fix animation wages with non-poaching agreements” (Johnson 2017).
The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2014, was headed by Robert Nitsch, David Wentworth, and Georgia Cano who claim that the anti-poaching agreements between DreamWorks, Pixar, and The Walt Disney Company, among other organizations, go back to the 1980’s when George Lucas and Ed Catmull agreed to not gain employees from each other (Johnson 2017).
Something went wrong between 2004-2010 though, as animation and visual effects employees at Pixar, LucasFilms, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky, and Two Pic MC (formerly ImageMovers), seemed to have a swap-employee moment, or “raid” as Johnson says. At the same time, there were complaints with Adobe, Apple, and Google, as well as the aforementioned companies about fixed wages, in other words, employees were given a fixed wage for their work. This issue was taken to court in 2010 and the companies agrees to refrain from such policies for five years (Johnson 2017).
The Walt Disney Company is the last to settle with the hearing scheduled for March 9th in the San Jose District Court (Johnson 2017). This begs the question, how and why did this happen and what can be done to prevent this behavior in the future? I suppose we shall see the result of the case in March.
Johnson, Ted. “Variety.” Animation Workers Reach $100 Million Settlement With Disney in Wage-Fixing Suit. N.p., 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 3 Feb. 2017. <http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/disney-settlement-wage-fixing-anti-poaching-animation-1201975084/>.
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