Pride Month got off to a rocky start for Disney.
As the company rolled out a line of "Rainbow Disney" products benefitting the LGBTQIA+ community, it was hit with a lawsuit from a top executive citing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
As reported by Deadline, the lawsuit, filed on June 1, claims that executive Joel Hopkins was denied promotions and paid less than other equally-ranked department heads after his supervisor learned that he was gay.
According to the 10-page filing, after Hopkins' superiors learned of his sexual orientation, he was discriminated against, out on a "dead-end career track and repeatedly denied promotions with no remedy or relief from HR."
The plaintiff, Hopkins, believes that these promotions happened as recently as April 2021 "despite representations that Disney was hurting financially and not promoting," the document says.
The lawsuit names Walt Disney Company, ABC Signature Studios, Inc., and Riverside Television Services LLC as defendants.
According to the complaint, Hopkins is currently a VP of Production Finance at ABC Signature but began his career with Disney back in 1994 as Director of Production Finance for Buena Vista Television. In 2000, the suit claims, he was promoted to VP of Production Finance for Touchstone Television around the same time that many learned of his sexual orientation as a gay man, including his direct supervisor, Jim Hedges, the CFO of ABC.
That when the lawsuit says the 20-plus years of discrimination began.
According to the complaint, Hopkins experienced a pattern of being passed up for promotions, being harassed and falsely blamed for issues, and being denied requests for support.
The paperwork also claims that Hopkins was paid less than others "who are also department heads and that his title is lower than other individuals who are also department heads, especially for someone of Plaintiff’s experience and tenure."
Hopkins is seeking compensatory damages including lost wages, lost employee benefits, medical expenses, pain, emotional distress and various legal fees, the complaint states.
10 Tampa Bay has reached out to Disney for comment but has not received a response.
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