SAG-AFTRA Calls Disney’s Handling of Scarlett Johansson Lawsuit ‘Gender-Shaming and Bullying’

Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract late last month

gabrielle carteris sag-aftra
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris (Getty Images)

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris says Disney has been “resorting to tired tactics of gender-shaming and bullying” in how the studio handled Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against it.

“Disney should be ashamed of themselves for resorting to tired tactics of gender-shaming and bullying,” she said in a statement“Actors must be compensated for their work according to their contracts. Scarlett Johansson is shining a white-hot spotlight on the improper shifts in compensation that companies are attempting to slip by talent as distribution models change. Nobody in any field of work should fall victim to surprise reductions in expected compensation. It is unreasonable and unjust. Disney and other content companies are doing very well and can certainly live up to their obligations to compensate the performers whose art and artistry are responsible for the corporation’s profits.”

She added: “Additionally, we are deeply concerned by the gendered tone of Disney’s criticism of Ms. Johansson. Women are not ‘callous’ when they stand up and fight for fair pay – they are leaders and champions for economic justice. Women have been victimized by pay inequity for decades, and they have been further victimized by comments like those in Disney’s press statements. These sorts of attacks have no place in our society and SAG-AFTRA will continue to defend our members from all forms of bias.”

Johansson filed a lawsuit late last month alleging breach of contract in the lawsuit in which she’s suing Disney over the company’s decision to release “Black Widow” on Disney+ at the same time as the film’s theatrical release.

In response, Disney said the lawsuit had “no merit whatsoever” and that she already received $20 million in compensation.

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of ‘Black Widow’ on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said.

The statement was not well-received by several female equity-focused organizations. Time’s Up, ReFrame and Women and Film released a joint statement, calling Disney’s statement a “gendered character attack.”

Then, on Friday, longtime Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli said in a statement to Variety that her lawsuit is a “highly orchestrated PR campaign to achieve an outcome that is not obtainable in the lawsuit.”


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