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Disney employees who relocated for work asked to return after project cancellation, now they're suing

The employees who relocated for the Lake Nona Project claim the Disney's action caused them distress
PUBLISHED JUN 22, 2024
Cover image source: The Walt Disney Company corporate headquarters | Getty Images | Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Cover image source: The Walt Disney Company corporate headquarters | Getty Images | Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Employees are suing Walt Disney Company alleging that the company moved their jobs from California to Florida only to cancel the project. Maria De La Cruz and George Fong, who work in the product design division of the company, say they were forced to reloated twice which hurt them financially and emotionally. The lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California claims there are 250 other employees in the same situation. The duo, who are seeking unspecified damages from their employer, hope other plaintiffs join them, Fortune reported.

The Walt Disney company logo is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange | Getty Images | Photo by Michael M. Santiago
The Walt Disney company logo is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange | Getty Images | Photo by Michael M. Santiago

Here’s The Story of Disney’s False Promises

In 2021, Disney’s former CEO Bob Chapek announced they were moving about 2,000 roles from California to Florida. The workers were supposed to move to the Lake Nona Office complex which was estimated to be built at the cost of $1 billion. The complaint alleges that at the time, the company “made it clear that employees who declined relocation would lose their jobs.”

However, in May 2023, CEO Bob Iger returned, after the dismissal of Chapek, and the company’s plans changed. Upon his return, Disney cancelled the Lake Nona office complex citing “new leadership and changing business conditions.”

The employees were informed about the cancellation amid the company's legal and political battle with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis which has now been settled.



 

However, in the complaint, the staff says they had relied on Disney's claims and incurred major moving expenses. The complainants even sold their family homes to buy new homes in Florida.

The complaint also alleges that Disney misrepresented and concealed its true plans for the Lake Nona project, hurting the employees financially and otherwise. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages. 



 

The company responsible for developing the land in Lake Nona has confirmed that Disney still owns the 60 acres which it bought for the new corporate campus, CNN reported. However, it isn't clear what Disney plans to do with it.

The plaintiffs, De La Cruz who is the vice president of product design, and Fong who is a creative director, claim they incurred major losses due to Disney’s decision.

As per the complaint, in 2022, Fong sold his beloved childhood home in Los Angeles to move to Florida. He claims that he slept in a hotel until his home in Orlando was ready. However, less than six months later, Fong was informed that the Lake Nona project had been canceled and he would need to move back to California if he wanted to keep his role.

Fong suffered the loss of his family home and was left with a seemingly unsellable home in Florida. He listed the property twice and failed to make a sale due to the lack of offers, the complaint adds.



 

The other plaintiff, De La Cruz, shares a similar story as Fong. In May 2022, De La Cruz sold her home in Altadena and relocated to Florida with her family. De La Cruz is also in the process of moving back to California to continue with her role at the company’s Glendale offices.

The two plaintiffs allege that Disney’s actions caused them immense distress and financial losses. The allegations include concealment, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and solicitation of employees by misrepresentation.

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