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Disney Hit With Class Action Lawsuit for Alleged Labor Violations at Hotels

Disney has been sued for allegedly underpaying maintenance workers at its Southern California hotels near its sprawling theme park, on top of a host of other alleged violations of labor laws.

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, claims workers were forced to pay for their own tools while not being paid the required double minimum wage and correct overtime rate. The proposed class action seeks at least $1 million in back pay.

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The complaint was filed amid a growing cost of living and poverty crisis that has afflicted workers employed by major companies in the entertainment industry. A UCLA Labor Center study of Universal Studios Hollywood theme park employees found widespread poverty, with 44 percent of workers reporting that they worried about being evicted from their homes and more than half cutting the size of their meals — or skipping them altogether — because they do not have enough money for food. A quarter of the workforce has received benefits through food stamps, banks or other need-based donation programs.

According to the complaint filed against Disney, the entertainment giant also failed to provide workers the proper rest and meal periods, as well as accurate wage statements to ensure they are being paid correctly, in a “willful and deliberate” manner.

The proposed class action was filed by assistant maintenance engineer Charlie Torres and seeks to represents a group of more than 115 current and former workers.

“Mr. Torres and so many others are told to cover the expense of tools used on behalf of Disney who flouts the law and refuses to pay its workers what they’re due,” said Ron Zambrano, a lawyer for the proposed class, in a statement. “Disney is a massive company. They know the law.”

Disney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In December, a discrimination lawsuit against Disney accusing it of systematically underpaying women cleared a major hurdle when a Los Angeles judge certified a diverse class of employees, who work across the company’s movie production arm, record labels, theme parks and home distribution subsidiaries, among other units. It’s believed to be one of the largest classes ever suing under an equal pay act claim. The group comprises women employed by Disney between April 2015 and three months before trial, which is set to start in October next year, below the level of vice president.

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