America First Legal Files Federal Civil Rights Complaint Against The Walt Disney Company For Illegal Race and Sex Discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) filed a federal civil rights complaint against The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries (Disney) for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging in illegal race, sex, and national origin discrimination. 

The law prohibits Disney from using race, color, religion, sex, or national origin merely as a motivating factor for hiring, training, or promotions. But a document on Disney’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” website strongly suggests that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin are often the only motivating factor in Disney’s hiring, training, and promotion decisions and that the company is intentionally discriminating against white American men, Christians, and Jews simply because of their race, sex, religion, and citizenship.   

All Disney General Entertainment productions are required to comply with Disney’s DEI “Inclusion Standards.” Some of the standards explicitly provide that fifty percent of the following jobs must be filled by members of “Underrepresented Groups:”

  • Regular and recurring actors and characters in Disney content;
  • Producers and writing staff;
  • Overall crew or project staff;
  • Line producers and/or production department heads – including, for example, the director of photography, composer, costume designer, editor, production designer, and music supervisor.

Productions can also comply with the inclusion standards by promoting members of Underrepresented Groups, creating jobs “to facilitate union eligibility for members of Underrepresented Groups,” and facilitating a “[s]ubstantial year-over-year increase in members of Underrepresented Groups as directors and in writing staff.”

In addition, a leaked Frequently Asked Questions document on Disney’s “Inclusion Standards” describes the company’s broader plan “to increase training and development opportunities for members of underrepresented groups” in a racially exclusionary manner.

Disney admits that an example of an “inclusive hiring and employment practice” is “improving access to training and development opportunities for members of underrepresented groups.”

Disney’s self-reported workforce demographic data shows that it is aggressively engaged in illegal race- and sex-based workforce balancing, with immutable characteristics apparently serving as a determinative factor in at least some of its employment and contracting practices. For example: 

From FY 2020 to FY 2021, the percentage of Disney directors identified by Disney as “people of color” grew by six percent.

From FY 2020 to FY 2021, the percentage of individuals identified by Disney as  “people of color” and female “series regulars/leads” increased by four percent and one percent, respectively. 

From FY 2020 to FY 2021, the percentage of writers identified by Disney as “people of color” also grew by three percent. 

Interestingly, Disney’s aggregate workforce data shows that between FY 2021 and FY 2022, the percentage of individuals identified by Disney as “white” dropped by three point six percent and as “black” by zero point five percent. The percentage of individuals identified by Disney as “Hispanic” increased by nearly one percent. However, the largest increase noted is for a category Disney labeled “not disclosed,” which grew by three point two percent during the relevant time. Because Disney is not transparent, knowing precisely what the aggregated data means is impossible. For example, it is possible that some individuals who formerly were identified as white or black are now classified as “not disclosed.” Nevertheless, the data seem to support Disney’s claims that race, color, religion, sex, and/or national origin are each a motivating factor in the company’s employment practices.   

Finally, Disney maintains an illegal grant program that funnels $25,000 to “Underrepresented Directors.” The program unlawfully only awards grants to “women, AAPI, Black, Indigenous/Native, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, disability-identifying, and religiously marginalized individuals.” 

Statement from America First Legal President Stephen Miller:

“Disney appears to be engaged in pervasive, far-reaching, and illegal race and sex discrimination in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Accordingly, we have filed a formal complaint with the EEOC that Disney is engaged in illegal conduct. It is sad and tragic that a company whose name was once synonymous with wholesome and charming childhood fantasies is now dedicated to spreading divisive bigotry. We urge Disney to cease and desist its unlawful and destructive conduct at once,” said Stephen Miller.

Read the letter here.

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Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images

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