Disney will pay $142m to end lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO • Walt Disney has agreed to pay US$100 million (S$141.6 million) to resolve claims that it colluded with other animation studios to not hire one another's workers in California, where allegations of no-poaching pacts have plagued tech companies for the better part of a decade.

Disney and three of its units are the last remaining defendants in a class-action lawsuit alleging that the studios conspired to suppress wages through a "gentleman's agreement" to not recruit workers.

Attorneys for Disney and employees submitted a court filing on Tuesday seeking approval of the settlement.

Comcast's DreamWorks Animation previously agreed to a US$50 million settlement, while two Sony Pictures units and Blue Sky Studios reached deals totalling US$19 million. Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe Systems paid US$415 million in 2015 to resolve their part in a similar case that was brought against Silicon Valley technology companies that had been investigated for collusion by the US Justice Department.

University of San Diego law professor Orly Lobel predicted that Disney's settlement would win approval because it satisfied requirements that the agreement be fair, reasonable and adequate.

"Given that this was the last hold-out, there are already proxies of what should be the lump sum and it seems within the range," Prof Lobel said.

A US$100 million settlement for one large company is proportional to the US$415 million agreed to by several technology giants in the previous case, and the much smaller earlier settlements, she said.

A Disney spokesman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Disney will pay $142m to end lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe