'Mona Lisa Smile' Producers Settle Gender Discrimination Suit

August 10, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In an ironic twist, producers of a recent Hollywood movie about stereotypes of female repression at a 1950s women's college have agreed to pay $66,500 to settle allegations of their own gender discrimination.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that the Mona Lisa Smile producers – Revolution Studios and Smile Productions LLC – agreed to settle the lawsuit accusing them of paying their female musicians less than men for the same work, the Associated Press reported.

The settlement called for a payout of $3,500 to each of the female musicians, for a total of $66,500.

A lawsuit filed in US District Court in Manhattan said that the unlawful employment practices alleged by the EEOC were done “with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights” of the workers. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein approved the settlement last week.

Stella Yamada, an EEOC trial attorney, said the case drew the agency’s attention to the entertainment industry, where workers such as musicians might work just three days, as did the women who worked on the score for “Mona Lisa Smile.”

In the movie, actress Julia Roberts plays a free-spirited art teacher who confronts repression at a 1950s women’s college, where students seem more interested in finding a husband and taking on outdated roles than in learning.