Disney Employees Sue Media Giant for ‘Fraudulently’ Inducing Them to Move to Florida in Spiked Campus Initiative

In 2021, Disney asked 2,000 employees to move to the Sunshine State before changing its mind

Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World (Credit: Getty Images)

The fallout from Disney’s decision to relocate hundreds of employees from California to Florida continues, as a class action lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by attorneys for current Disney employees Maria De La Cruz, George Fong and “all others similarly situated” proposed class members. The lawsuit demands a jury trial.

This class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of employees like De La Cruz, a vice president of product design, and Fong, a creative director of product design, who were “fraudulently induced to move from the company’s California offices to its proposed Lake Nona, Florida development.” When Disney then decided that they would no longer require the requested 2,000 employees to move to Florida, shuttering the sprawling Lake Nona campus amid an ongoing — and since squashed — battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, it left many Disney employees reeling. Some had already moved to Florida, others who hadn’t made the to move to the Sunshine State found themselves without a job and still others were now being forced to return to California.

At the time, it was an incredibly painful situation. After the company had reversed their decision, many employees, who were reluctant about moving to Florida, asked about staying on in California. They were told that a Florida employee had already taken their old job. This happened again and again.

A lawsuit isn’t hugely surprising, in that respect, which details employees in a division of the company formerly known as DPEP (Disney Parks Experiences and Consumer Products) being forced to decide about proposed relocation within 90 days.

“Disney emphasized the contemporary nature of the planned facilities, including its collaborative workspaces, large group gathering spaces, extensive amenities and efficient transportation options,” the lawsuit reads. “Disney also emphasized the affordability of the Orlando housing market, the availability of strong performing schools and the availability of lifestyle amenities in and around Lake Nona.”

The lawsuit details the anguish of having to move and then having to move back. “These employees were given the choice to sell their Southern California homes and leave their communities primarily because Disney represented that their job security at Disney was dependent upon their relocation to Florida, but also because Disney represented that their work groups would now be centralized in Florida, and by constructing the Lake Nona campus, Disney was providing them with a modernized, comfortable and centralized workplace where they could effectively perform their job duties. In sum, employees were incentivized to move through a combination of reward and punishment. An employee could choose to move to a better life in Florida, or alternatively, choose not to move and be terminated by Disney,” the lawsuit reads.

Allegations also include Disney concealing facts “inconsistent with its representations in order to induce employees to move to Florida,” stating that Disney’s plans to build a state-of-the-art facility were in fact, not true. There is also a mention that Disney addressed the plans, apologizing to those impacted and expressing that “the situation was a mistake on Disney’s part.”

“The unfortunate irony is that the employees most harmed were Disney’s most loyal employees,” attorney Jason S. Lohr said in a statement to TheWrap. “Disney needs to make this right for their best and most loyal employees.”


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