The Walt Disney Company is being sued by a man alleging sexual harassment is the cause of his termination from his employment. The ex-employee is not claiming he was sexually harassed but instead he was fired after reporting a female employee who allegedly sent illicit text messages to a male counterpart. Robert Klein, a former manager of collections and preservation with Disney, filed his complaint alleging sexual harassment in California federal court.
According to the complaint, “This is a case about Walt Disney Company’s attempt to cover up sexual harassment at the company by willfully retaliating against and firing the very person who reported the harassment in the first place, a person of impeccable credentials and former archivist for Disney who appeared on television for the company several times and wrote multiple books about Disney’s history.”
“Yet, according to Disney, the man who wrote their history is a liar who Disney has now blackballed in the entertainment industry,” continues the lawsuit.
Klein, who worked at Disney, in the archives department, from 2007 – 2011 says his firing was caused by a report that he filed with the company’s HR dept regarding two other employees.
In the report he filed with Disney he stated that specifically Andrea Recendez-Carbon was inappropriate towards Kiara Gellar. In the report, Klein targeted Andrea Recendez-Carbon, a woman who he says has a “known history of sexual harassment-type issues … having been involved in a prior scandal,” which is not detailed. Geller came to him and reported Recendez-Carbon’s inappropriate behavior towards him that occurred during the week of the D23 Expo in August of 2011. Klein contacted HR but over the next couple of weeks there was more drama between the two parties. After an HR investigation, Klein claims that he reported to the archives director and was terminated. He was told his termination was because he had not completed paperwork correctly when hiring Geller and that he “lied” during the investigation.
Klein claims it was because of the report he filed with HR regarding the sexual harassment between Recendez-Carbon and Gellar. As the story goes, Gellar allegedly told Klein that Carbon made advances towards a relationship and that Carbon was aggressive and confrontational. “Gellar expressed that he was alarmed,” says the lawsuit. Klein then says that he was going to report it to HR when Carbon phoned him up, crying, and demanded that he fire Gellar. Klein contacted HR the next day.
The story gets even more complicated with talk of blackmail and a prior relationship between Carbon and Gellar that Klein was not aware of he claims.
“Klein did not know details about Gellar’s personal life,” says the lawsuit. “Moreover (although it is not true that Klein knew about any prior relationship between Gellar and Carbon), even if Klein had known about a prior relationship between Gellar and Carbon, such would have been irrelevant to Gellar’s hiring, particularly given that many Disney employees are either married, have ongoing relationships and had prior relationships before hiring. Simply put, having a relationship before or even after hiring at Disney was not against company policy.”
Klein says that “hundreds, if not thousands, of Disney employees have either engaged in romantic relationships before or after coming to Disney.”
Klein is asking for the courts to award him compensatory damages, lost wages, reinstatement and a promotion.
“Disney’s retaliatory actions have blackballed Klein in the archiving community, which is a tight-knit community, and have destroyed his otherwise impeccable career and reputation,” says the lawsuit.
A Disney spokesperson responded, “This lawsuit is absolutely without merit.”
What do you think? Do you think Disney is an easy target or that Disney is trying to cover up an ugly issue? It is always hard when you only get to hear one side of the story.
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