The former manager of Walt Disney Co.'s collections and preservation department in Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against the entertainment giant claiming that it had him shunned and abruptly fired him after he reported a subordinate's sexual harassment complaint. He claims that his superiors urged his co-workers to shun him, even going so far as to de-friend him on Facebook, and refused to give him any form of professional reference after firing him. In essence, he was blacklisted.
He has sued the company in federal court for retaliation and wrongful termination in an effort to cover up sexual harassment.
According to his complaint, a male employee of the Disney archive contacted the manager to complain about a female archive employee having sent him "lewd" and "pornographic" text messages and asking him to stay in her hotel room during an upcoming Disney Archives event in Anaheim. The woman had a history of sexually harassing men in the workplace, the manager says, and had been involved in an unspecified prior scandal.
The male employee went on to tell the manager that the woman was trying to initiate a relationship and had become aggressive and confrontational when rebuffed, alarming him. The manager contacted human resources several times, both before and after the Archives event, but got no response.
On Sept. 6, 2011, he was abruptly fired. He was told that the company had investigated the incident and had found that the two employees had once been in a relationship before the woman was hired. Furthermore, the company allegedly told the archives manager that he was being fired for lying about the employees' previous relationship in his report.
According to the manager, he had no knowledge of either employee's personal life or of their preexisting relationship. Furthermore, he says, evidence of a prior relationship between the parties would have been irrelevant to the question of whether sexual harassment was occurring. He believes the allegation that he lied was a pretext for retaliatory termination.
The manager offers ample evidence that he had previously been held in high esteem by Disney. He has impeccable credentials as an archivist, and the company trusted him to represent it on several TV shows. Furthermore, he has written multiple books about Disney history for the company.
"Yet, according to Disney, the man who wrote their history is a liar who Disney has now blackballed in the entertainment industry," reads his complaint.
The archivist is seeking compensation for his lost earnings due to the alleged wrongful discharge and retaliatory blackballing, along with punitive damages against Disney.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Disney Fired Whistleblower, Manager Says," Matt Reynolds, Feb. 27, 2013