Disney pays nearly $1 million in back wages for workers who earned less than minimum wage

Saturday, December 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) _ Walt Disney Co. is providing nearly $1 million in back wages to pay 800 workers who earned less than minimum wage while making beaded tiaras and wands for a contractor.

The check allowed the Burbank-based company to admit no liability.

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement's five-month investigation showed Disney subcontractor, KTBA Inc., had committed a number of violations, including not paying overtime and allowing at least 15 minors between the ages of 7 and 15 to assemble the Disney products.

The probe was launched after an Orange County Register investigation showed workers were each paid 60 cents to make tiaras and did not make enough to earn the state's hourly minimum wage.

Disney officials, who has pulled all KTBA products off its shelves, said they didn't know about the company's labor practices.

``We feel a responsibility as a good corporate citizen to make the KTBA employees whole,'' said Sondra Haley, spokeswoman for the Disney Store.

Workers will likely receive checks within the next few months, said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the labor agency. The state still needs to determine how much money each worker is owed.

``That's perfect,'' said Victoria Guerra of Garden Grove, who earned an average of $1.35 an hour making the children's toys out of her home. ``At least we get what we deserve.''

KTBA has gone out of business. The tiaras made by KTBA and sold at Disney stores often cost more than $10, officials said.