A US judge has allowed 9,000 women to sue entertainment giant Disney via a class-action lawsuit that alleged pay disparity.

The lawsuit includes female Disney employees who worked for the company in California since 2015 in a non-union position below the level of vice president, reports Variety.

The women employees worked at Disneyland hotels and theme parks, the cruise line, the Disney film and TV studios, ABC, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and other units.

“Disney has been gaslighting these women for four years. They love their jobs. They love the brand. But they want to be respected and treated the way they should be in the workplace,” Lori Andrus, the plaintiffs’ attorney, was quoted as saying.

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The lawsuit is the largest-ever certified under California’s Equal Pay Act. Judge Elihu M Berle rejected Disney’s arguments that the case was so sprawling as to be unmanageable.

Disney said it is disappointed with the court’s ruling as to the Equal Pay Act claims and “are considering our options”. Both sides have retained experts to prove, or disprove, a gender pay gap.

Andrus said that starting pay across the class is 2 percent lower for women than for men, the report said. The trial is expected to be held sometime before October next year.

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