With the end of Pride month in June, a month where corporations participate with supportive marketing gestures, eyes turned to Disney, not for their own displays of celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, but due to being hit with a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit.
The sexual orientation lawsuit has plaintiff Joel Hopkins, television executive, accusing Disney of discriminating against him once the company found out about Hopkins being a gay man. Hopkins began working for Disney in 1994 as Director of Production Finance for Buena Vista TV. Hopkins then saw himself be promoted to the VP of Production Finance for Touchstone TV in 2000. Currently, Hopkins is the VP of Production Finance at the recently formed ABC Signature.
However, according to the complaint, it was after this promotion that “Plaintiff’s sexual orientation as a gay man became known to several individuals, including Plaintiff’s direct supervisor, Jim Hedges, the CFO of ABC.”
The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, goes on to describe once Hopkin’s sexual orientation was known to his superiors, his once steady rise to the top came to a screeching halt. The complaint details how Hopkins, “experienced an ongoing pattern of discrimination, including, but not limited to, being passed over for promotions and not being paid at a level commensurate with other department heads.” The issue with being passed up for promotions seems to be ongoing as the complaint states that just as recently as April 2021 several promotions were administered yet Hopkins once again was passed over.
In addition to Hopkin being passed over for promotions and being underpaid, Hopkins also alleges experiencing “unwarranted scrutiny and harassment,” which appeared to be blame for problems that were not his own doing nor his responsibility, having his management role be reduced, and being excluded from executive meetings.
Following the harassment, the suit states Hopkins “made direct and repeated complaints to HR,” yet HR “provided no relied whatsoever.”
The suit shows Hopkins seeking punitive damages, compensatory damages, medical expenses, and various lawsuit costs.
No statement has been released from The Walt Disney Company regarding the discrimination allegations. Included in the suit are also ABC Signature Studios and Riverside Television Services, which have also not issued forth any comments.