Disney Settles Animator Class Action Lawsuit for $100 Million

By George Khoury, Esq. on February 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A little more than 3 months after DreamWorks and other animation studios settled out of the massive animator class action anti-poaching lawsuit, Disney is settling the claims against it for a reported $100 million. Like the other animation studios, it was alleged that Disney had a reciprocal agreement with the other companies to not hire their competitors' animators and studio employees, and to artificially keep down animator and other studio employee wages.

Of the animation studios sued in the class action, Disney is by far the largest and most active. DreamWorks settled for $50 million, while Sony and BlueSky settled for a combined $19 million. For the over 10,000 potential members of the class, that's a total of $169 million.

Disney's History in the Case

Disney, as well as its subsidiary companies Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Two Pic MC, were included as part of the settlement with the animators. These four companies were also the last to settle the claims against them. Despite the wholesome programming, Disney's Pixar and Lucasfilm have a history with this issue.

Notably, Pixar and Lucasfilm were swept up in a separate 2012 class action lawsuit that stemmed from a 2010 US Department of Justice prosecution into the anti-poaching and wage fixing claims for software engineers. Shocking, it was discovered posthumously that Steve Jobs was involved in that case. The 2012 class action settled for over $400 million, but included claims against tech giants Apple and Google.

Anti-Poaching Agreements Are Illegal

The type of anti-poaching and wage fixing agreements the animation studios entered into are illegal because it is against public policy for businesses to gain unfair advantages over other businesses and consumers. Additionally, restricting competition harms innovation. Basically, these are violations of anti-trust laws.

By fixing wages below a certain threshold at the major employers in the industry, as well as having the anti-poaching agreement in place, the studio essentially created a monopoly over the skills that their employees, and others, could sell to employers.

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