A Disney executive has filed a lawsuit against the entertainment company, claiming it discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual orientation.
According to Fox News, the lawsuit was filed just days before Disney is scheduled to commence its Pride Month celebrations.
“Plaintiff had direct and repeated complaints to HR about the discrimination he has endured while employed by Defendants and, concomitantly, the related failures to promote him and to pay him at the same level as the other department heads,” the lawsuit stated.
Fox News notes that the complaint was filed on behalf of Joel Hopkins in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit names as defendants the Walt Disney Company and several of its subsidiaries, including ABC Signature Studios, Inc., and Riverside Television Services LLC.
Hopkins, adds Fox, is currently the Vice President of Production-Finance at ABC Signature.
However, Hopkins had joined Disney as the Director of Production Finance for Buena Vista TV in 1994. Several years later, he was promoted to VP Production Finance for Touchstone TV.
Around the same time that Hopkins received his last promotion, recalls the lawsuit, “Plaintiff’s sexual orientation as a gay man became known to several individuals, including Plaintiff’s director supervisor, Jim Hedges, the CFO of ABC.”
“After his sexual orientation became known to his superiors and after being discriminated against and put on a dead-end career track and repeatedly denied promotions with no remedy or relief from HR, Plaintiff is informed and believes that yet again, in or around April 2021, several promotions occurred, but Plaintiff once again was not promoted,” the suit states. “Plaintiff is informed and believes that these promotions occurred despite representations that Disney was hurting financially and not promoting.”
Alongside Disney’s refusal to promote Hopkins, the complaint asserts that Hopkins believes he is intentionally paid less than his counterparts and colleagues.
“Plaintiff is also informed and believes that his compensation is less than other individuals who are also department heads and this his title is lower than other individuals who re also department heads, especially for someone of Plaintiff’s experience and tenure,” court filings allege.
Hopkins’ lawsuit, suggests Fox News, should not come as a surprise to Disney: Hopkins had earlier filed a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
While the CDFEH’s report is not publicly available, Hopkins and his attorneys did receive a “Right to Sue” notice from the agency.
“The civil action,” said the CDFEH, “must be filed within one year from the date of this notice.”
Hopkins is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with reimbursement for his legal fees.