In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Disney Sued by Flying Dancer Fired After Having Twins

For Disney, a recently filed lawsuit alleges that the family-friendly entertainment conglomerate has gender-biased employment policies. The plaintiff, a former flying, or aerial, dancer at the "Festival of the Lion King," a show at the Disney's Animal Park Kingdom, is claiming that she was fired while out on leave after giving birth to twins via C-section.

After being on leave for nearly a year, she was told that she was fired when she returned. Curiously, she claims that she was not notified of her termination, which occurred a couple months before her return. Though she was given the opportunity to audition for her old part, she was denied, and her lawsuit followed.

11 Months Is a Long Time, But...

For in-house lawyers and anyone else that works on the management side, losing a key employee for 11-months is a difficult pill to swallow. Sure, laws protecting pregnant workers and new parents are not absolute, but taking action can be a huge reputational risk.

Given the current climate surrounding the #metoo movement, the sort of negative PR Disney could have on their hands is likely more costly (in terms of resources and reputation) than the case itself. Additionally, for a company that prides itself on having inclusive, family-friendly attractions, the firing of a new mother seeking to return to work simply doesn't jive with the image Disney wants to project.

Though the company has refrained from making any non-boilerplate statements that would come back to haunt the company, if the plan is to fight this one out in court, that'll have to change that to avoid the worst of the inevitable social media blowback.

Related Resources: