Disneyland not 'happiest place' for workers, wage lawsuit claims

Maintenance workers at Disneyland in southern California are forced to use their own tools and deprived of overtime pay and breaks required by state law, according to a proposed class action filed on Thursday (local time).

The lawsuit by Disneyland maintenance engineer Charlie Torres, filed in state court in Orange County, seeks "up to seven figures in backpay" on behalf of more than 100 workers.

Torres claims that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, which operates the iconic amusement park, requires maintenance employees to bring their own hand tools and equipment to work but does not pay them a premium required by California law.

State law says employees must be reimbursed for work-related expenses or, if they are required to use their own tools, that they be paid twice the minimum wage, which is currently $16 ($26 NZD) an hour.

And because the workers are not paid the proper hourly rate, Torres says, Disney pays them a lower overtime premium than it should. Maintenance workers also are required to be on duty during meal and rest breaks but are not paid for that time in violation of state law, according to the lawsuit.

Representatives for Disneyland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ronald Zambrano, a lawyer for Torres, said maintenance workers are responsible for upholding Disneyland's reputation as "the happiest place on Earth" and deserved proper pay.

"Disney is a massive company. They know the law. But just like their character Uncle Scrooge, they choose to be cheap," Zambrano said in a statement.