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Disney Faces Major New Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Asta Jonasson Racial Gender Disney lawsuit
Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company has been sailing in some very rocky waters lately. For months, the company and CEO Bob Iger had been fighting against an attempted hostile takeover by billionaire activist investor, Nelson Peltz. Much to Disney’s relief, Peltz was defeated, but that doesn’t mean it’s all blue skies and sunshine moving forward. The company still has some major issues to face — this includes dealing with a struggling Disney+, creating movies that will be successful in theaters, and dealing with multiple lawsuits from employees.

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Credit: Disney

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Since starting up productions after the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney and ABC have had to deal with several lawsuits because of their vaccine mandates. And that is not the only lawsuit Disney is dealing with on the ABC front. Most recently, a former development executive has filed a lawsuit against the company for both gender and racial discrimination.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Asta Jonasson claims that she was fired after complaining that she was being paid less than her white, male counterparts. Ms. Jonasson is an Asian American woman.

American Crime ABC

Credit: ABC

Per THR:

Asta Jonasson, in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims she was discriminated against by director John Ridley, whose production house has an overall deal with Disney through ABC Studios. She says she was fired in retaliation for issuing a complaint about unequal pay on the basis of her gender and race.

Jonasson claims that she was working for Ridley, the creator of the hit American Crime series, when she learned that he was expanding the company. He would be hiring a Director of Development, a role Jonasson was currently filling. She had been working in the role with Ridley since 2014.

American Crime

Credit: ABC

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Jonasson said that she advocated for equal pay in the position, but it ended up being offered to a white male, who did not take it. She continued to work in the role, but without what she considered to be adequate compensation.

According to the complaint, Ridley allegedly dismissed concerns of discrimination from Jonasson, who told him in 2016 that he was not providing her the same opportunities that he gave men, such as writing room advancement and producing opportunities. Ridley, for example, had allegedly hired a male assistant as a coproducer on American Crime when Jonasson had already been performing producing duties on the prior season.

American Crime ABC

Credit: ABC

This lawsuit comes as Disney is also dealing with a class-action lawsuit filed by a large group of women who formerly worked for the Mouse House. The women claim that Disney engaged in systematic gender discrimination for years. The class action was filed in 2019, but it was not until 2023 that a judge certified the class of employees. The women worked across the company, including on its film productions, record labels, broadcast channels, and theme parks.

No trial date has been set for the class action suit, but it is expected to happen sometime next year.

Disney and Mr. Ridley have not issued a statement on the new lawsuit, but the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Do you think that Disney engaged in gender discrimination? Let us know in the comments. 

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

One comment

  1. Ol. I have several opinions. #1 think alcohol should NOT be available at MAGIC KINGDOM…AT ALL!!
    MAYBE,MAYBE a glass of wine with a sit down meal,limit to 2. NI EXCEPTIONS!!
    I don’t mind the the TALK or whatever it is about gender and race lawsuits. Women,NO MATTER what get stepped on and passed over and get paid less than men. Even under qualified,a man would get the pay and step up! It happens in every company,everywhere!! It’s TOTALLY NOT RIGHT or FAIR!! So if Disney or whoever does this,I ABSOLUTELY think they should be called out and sued or forced to MAKE IT RIGHT!! Women are just as efficient and more than qual8fied to get the same pay if they are doing the same job! Race,color any type of ” orientation” should NOT MATTER!
    SHAME on DISNEY!!

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