A longtime ABC executive who was laid off in 2020 is suing the network and its parent company, the Walt Disney Co., alleging age and gender discrimination.
Vicki Dummer, 57, was in charge of overseeing all current scripted series programming for ABC Entertainment when she lost her job in December after nearly a quarter century with the company.
Dummer, who also alleges wrongful termination and breach of contract, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Monday.
A Disney representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“By all accounts, (Dummer) performed her services … in an exemplary manner without any complaint from defendants,” the suit states. “Indeed, during a review of her employment in late 2020, (Dummer) was told that defendants would support her promotion. To add insult to injury, (Dummer) reasonably believes that her age and gender were a material factor in her termination.”
During the past few years, Disney and ABC have laid off a “disproportionate number of over-50 female employees, resulting in only a handful of such individuals remaining in defendants’ employ at the time of (Dummer’s) termination,” the suit states.
“Indeed, lest there be any doubt as to defendants’ improper motivations for terminating (Dummer), in the months leading up to her termination (she) was specifically told by her superiors that (they) were changing their hiring policies to overwhelmingly favor the hiring of individuals from demographics other than (Dummer’s) over-50 female demographic,” according to the suit.
In the spirit of being a team player, Dummer took a 25% salary reduction from April to August of last year to ease the financial burden on Disney and ABC during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to her court papers.
Despite Dummer’s “unfettered loyalty for more than two decades,” ABC and Disney told her on Dec. 3 that she had done nothing wrong, but that they were eliminating her position, according to the suit.
At the time of Dummer’s layoff, her employment was governed by a written agreement dated December 2018 that stated absent gross negligence or breach of the contract, she was guaranteed employment through December of this year with a base salary of $721,700, plus the vesting of both 2,035 restricted Disney units and 5,283 Disney stock options, as well as other benefits, the suit states.
Although the precise value of Dummer’s stock compensation is dependent on the performance of Disney stock during the course of 2021, she believes that she is entitled to receive no less than $2 million in overall compensation through the end of the year, according to her court papers.