‘American Crime’ Development Exec Sues Disney, ABC, John Ridley for Retaliation, Discrimination and Violation of Equal Pay

Asta Jonasson claims she was underpaid for her work under the “Shirley” director and wrongfully terminated after filing a complaint

John-Ridley
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Former “American Crime” development executive Asta Jonasson has filed a lawsuit suing Disney, ABC and director John Ridley for retaliation, discrimination and violation of equal pay on the basis of her gender and race.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by TheWrap, alleges that Jonasson was underpaid while being employed by ABC and the Walt Disney company and working under the “Shirley” director. It also alleges that she was subsequently terminated in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination.

During her time working under Ridley, the lawsuit claims he “failed to offer Jonasson a salary commensurate with the role for which she was qualified and already performing,” and instead offered a development position with a higher salary to a white male.

After the candidate did not accept the position, Jonasson continued to be paid her lower wage while performing the same job functions. The suit claims Jonasson informed Ridley of her dissatisfaction and complained to ABC and Disney, but the companies did not take any formal action to address the concern.

The suit further accuses Ridley, Disney and ABC of wrongfully terminating Jonasson after Shannon Rhoades, a white woman, was hired to complete the same tasks Jonasson was performing for “substantially more money.” Following Rhoades’ hiring, Jonasson verbally voiced her concerns of discrimination to Ridley, who dismissed them, and filed a written complaint to Ridley. The suit claims her termination was in retaliation for issuing the complaint of discrimination.

Per the suit, by early 2022, Jonasson’s pay had not been raised since 2014, “despite excellent performance and gradually taking on more and more responsibility.” The suit also claims that in 2021, her salary “effectively fell under the minimum amount permitted to qualify as an overtime-exempt employee.”

Ridley’s lawyer Jennifer Redmond issued the following statement to TheWrap on Thursday in response to the lawsuit: “The allegations against Mr. Ridley are false, and the allegation that Mr. Ridley is biased against Asian-Americans is preposterous. We look forward to proving as much in court.”

Meanwhile, representatives for ABC and Disney did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. The suit also names International Famous Players Radio Picture Corporation (IFPRPC), where Jonasson was assigned by ABC, as a defendant.

Jonasson is seeking a trial by jury, where she seeks judgement for compensatory damages, emotional distress damages, punitive and exemplary damages and statutory damages and penalties, among others.

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