Disney Animators Draw Up Agreement

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Cinderella's Castle - Magic Kingdom, by flickr user beanhead4529, licensed by Creative Commons.

If the glass slipper fits…

Anti-poaching agreements prohibit companies from pitching a potential position to, and subsequently hiring, employees from their competitors. The companies refrain from increasing their employees’ wages past the initial contracted rate, leaving the employees stagnant. As a result, the employees and their wages suffer.  The Walt Disney Company is guilty of anti-poaching practices, and have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit in the amount of $100 million. Other involved companies in this present settlement include Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Two PIC MC. Disney is the last of several major companies to settle. The animation and visual effects companies that previously entered settlements are DreamWorks Animation, Fox’s Blue Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc., and Sony Pictures Animation Inc.

The class action lawsuit, initiated by animators and visual effects employees, began in 2014. The argument was that various animation and visual effects companies “conspired to systematically suppress the wages and salaries of those who they claim to prize as their greatest assets – their own workers.” The plaintiffs argue that Pixar and Lucasfilm started this unethical behavior back in the 1980s, prior to merging with Disney.

Employee poaching is a benefit to employees, who can take their developed skills to new companies, with an opportunity for higher salaries. Generally, experience warrants elevated wages; however, the anti-poaching agreements stifle the growth of an employee within their current company, with no prospects for a new job in the same industry. The wage rate would remain the same, without promotion.

About 10,000 members were involved in the class action, and will be compensated for damages. The settlement is bringing closure to those who felt oppressed within their animation and visual effects jobs. Lawyers maintain that the anti-poaching practice is “a conspiracy that involved suppressing compensation for employees all because it was viewed to be a cost that the companies didn’t want to incur.” The Walt Disney Company is now left to incur the costs of this settlement.