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Disney underpaid Southern California hotel maintenance workers, lawsuit alleges

A scooter cruises by the Disneyland Hotel marquee along Magic Way in Anaheim.
Disney faces wage claims in a lawsuit brought by an assistant maintenance engineer who alleges the company systematically underpaid him and more than 115 other current and former workers at its Southern California hotels. (Kevin Chang / Los Angeles Times)

Walt Disney Co. has been accused in a lawsuit of systematically underpaying maintenance workers at its Southern California hotels.

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc. and Disney Worldwide Services Inc., alleges Disney required workers to provide their own hand tools and equipment but failed to pay double the minimum wage rate mandated by state labor law for employers who do not supply needed tools.

Disney also did not provide rest breaks or meal breaks and failed to pay correct overtime rates, the lawsuit alleged.

“Disney has knowingly and intentionally violated provisions by persistently paying Mechanical Engineers below the required double-minimum wage, which affects the correct overtime rate or premiums for missed rest or meal periods on every wage statement owed to the Plaintiff and members of the proposed Class,” according to the lawsuit.

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The proposed class action was filed by assistant maintenance engineer Charlie Torres on behalf of some 100 maintenance engineers and 16 assistant maintenance engineers.

Read more: The battle brewing over California workers' unique right to sue their bosses

The suit was brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, a unique law that allows workers to file lawsuits against their employers, suing for both back wages and civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees and the state of California. PAGA claims don’t require the same type of notification and certification of workers allegedly affected that a typical class-action suit would require.

The proposed class action seeks at least $1 million in back pay.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

"Disney couldn’t be bothered to even pay for basic tools," said Ron Zambrano, an attorney at West Coast Employment Lawyers who is representing Torres, in a Thursday news release. "Disney is a massive company. They know the law. But just like their character Uncle Scrooge, they choose to be cheap.”

It's not the only class action the entertainment giant may be forced to grapple with in the coming months.

A gender pay equity lawsuit against Disney originally filed in 2019 cleared a major hurdle in December when a Los Angeles judge granted certification to a still-growing class action of nearly 9,000 women alleging they were paid less than their male counterparts.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.