Employees Sue Disney Over Canceled Move From California to Florida

Shannen Ace

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Employees Sue Disney Over Canceled Move From California to Florida

A year after Disney canceled plans to move Imagineering and other operations from Los Angeles, California to Lake Nona, Florida, employees who moved before the cancelation are suing the company for uprooting their lives.

Employees Suing Disney Over Canceled Cross-Country Move

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According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposed class-action lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In 2021, then-CEO of Disney Bob Chapek announced the $1 billion Lake Nona campus. The move was intended to save money thanks to lower worker costs and tax credits in Florida. Many employees spoke out against the relocation particularly following the passing of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Several Cast Members left Disney because of the planned move, which was scheduled to be completed in 2023 but later delayed to 2026. It was officially canceled in May 2023.

Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward with construction of the campus.

Disney’s May 2023 statement

Between the move’s announcement and cancelation, Chapek was fired, Bob Iger returned to the CEO position, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took over Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

In the lawsuit, current Disney employees Maria De La Cruz and George Fong allege they were fraudulently induced to relocate to Florida, with Disney leading them to believe they would lose their jobs if they turned down the move. De La Cruz is a vice president of product design. Fong is a creative director of product design.

The lawsuit states that affected employees were told they had 90 days to “consider and make the decision that’s best for them.” De La Cruz and Fong agreed to the move in November 2021.

In May 2022, De La Cruz sold her home in Altadena. Fong sold his Los Angeles home, “which was a particularly painful decision because it was the family home he had grown up in and inherited,” the lawsuit states. The project was canceled a year after they both sold their homes and moved.

When Disney canceled the relocation, they stated they would work with individual employees who had already moved and make plans to move them back to California. The lawsuit alleges that Disney offered inadequate compensation packages to affected employees. This is in part due to the rise in prices of Los Angeles homes since 2022.

De La Cruz is in the process of moving back to California. Fong bought a home in South Pasadena that has “considerably less square footage than his previous Los Angeles home.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and hopes to represent “all current and former California Disney employees who relocated from California to Florida as a result of Disney’s announcement of the Lake Nona Project.”

A Disney spokesperson did not immediately respond to LA Times’ request for comment.

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