Disney Executive Files Lawsuit Alleging LGBTQ Discrimination

Walt Disney Co DIS has been hit with a lawsuit filed by a longtime executive who alleged he faced repeated discrimination based on his sexual orientation.

What Happened: In a story first reported by Deadline, Joel Hopkins, currently a vice president for production finance at Disney’s ABC Signature, joined the company in 1994 as director of production finance for Buena Vista TV and was promoted in 2000 to vice president of production finance for another Disney subsidiary, Touchstone TV.

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Hopkins’ lawsuit stated that around the time of his promotion, his sexual orientation as a gay man became known to his supervisor, ABC Chief Financial Officer Jim Hedges, as well as to another executive in the company.

As a result of being identified as a gay man, the lawsuit argued, Hopkins was “put on a dead-end career track and repeatedly denied promotions with no remedy or relief from HR.”

Furthermore, the lawsuit stated that Hopkins “is also informed and believes that his compensation is less than other individuals 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 had previously filed a complaint of discrimination with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing in April, and the complaint was closed after Hopkins received a Right to Sue notice from the agency.

Related Link: Disneyland To Serve $100 Sandwich: What You Need To Know

What Happens Next: Hopkins filed his lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by Disney, ABC Signature Studios Inc. and Riverside Television Services LLC.

Hopkins’ lawsuit comes at the start of Pride Month celebrations, and Disney has been making a concentrated push to display its support of the LGBTQ community with merchandising featuring the rainbow flag and philanthropic donations to nonprofits supporting LGTBQ issues.

However, Disney has been criticized in its efforts to address the LGBTQ audience. Last year, the LGBTQ media monitoring organization GLAAD gave Disney a “failing” rating for the meager representation of LGBTQ characters in its films. The company also received negative feedback from LGBTQ advocates for moving the 10-part series “Love, Victor,” about a teenager coming to terms with being gay, from its family-friendly Disney+ streaming service to the more adult-oriented Hulu.

On the flip side, the company has been targeted by those who believe it is too friendly to the LGBTQ community. During last year’s annual shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was challenged by a right-wing activist to stop allowing Pride events at its theme parks. And four Islamic countries banned the Pixar animated feature “Onward” because one of its female characters spoke briefly about having a girlfriend.

(Image courtesy of Disney.)

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