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Disney employee: I was fired for reporting harassment

A 41-year-old former Walt Disney archivist is suing the company in California court for allegedly retaliating after he reported sexual harassment. The man claims that Disney has effectively ousted him from many professional opportunities because they have publicly defamed his character. While Disney claims that the suit is without merit, the man has filed claims for more than $75,000 in lost wages and benefits.

Court documents show that the man's troubles started in 2011 at the D23 fan expo in Anaheim, where the company showcases archived items from previous productions. A male employee reported that he had been sexually harassed by a female Disney worker. She had allegedly asked the man to stay in her hotel room during the convention.

In the following months, the man had numerous conversations with human resources about the harassment incident. The same employee brought another complaint shortly after the first was filed, and the archivist attempted to resolve the matter without further incident. In September 2011, the man was abruptly fired because of the sexual harassment complaints. Human resources alleged that the man did not properly fill out several reporting documents, and he was also accused of lying during interviews about the harassment.

It appears that the confusion was related to a previous relationship between the male employee that brought forward the complaint and the woman. Administrators claimed that the archivist lied about the couple's previous relationship to protect them, while he said he was unaware that the pair had been romantically linked.

The man argues that his professional reputation has been destroyed because of Disney's actions. The company refused to provide positive references for the man, instead encouraging former coworkers to disassociate from him entirely. He was also placed on Disney's "no re-hire" list, according to courtroom complaints.

Ultimately, the archivist contends that he was dismissed because of a procedural error, not because of his job performance. He was retaliated against because he tried to follow company policy and federal law by reporting the harassment. If you have been the target of retaliation, you could also seek reinstatement or compensation for time away from work and additional inconvenience.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Former Disney archivist alleges retaliation in firing," Dawn C. Chmielewski, Feb. 27, 2013

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