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Workers sue Disney after moving for cancelled project

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After Disney workers were told to move across the country for a project that was later cancelled, they sued the company for damages.

They accuse the media giant of misrepresenting its plans in a proposed class action lawsuit when it announced in 2021 that it would open a new $1bn campus for theme park staff in Florida. The firm told roughly 2,000 people in California to relocate or resign. But, the company reversed its course in less than two years.

“These folks are really frustrated by their circumstances,” said lawyer Jason Lohr, who is representing the workers.

Disney declined to comment on the suit, which was brought by two current employees a vice president of product design, Maria de la Cruz, and George Fong, creative director of product design.

After Bob Iger returned to lead the company, quickly embarking on a major cost-cutting drive, the company changed its mind on the Lake Nona campus in 2023.

It also followed a high-profile fight between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the company’s relationship with the state.

The corporate roller-coaster ride involving the project coincided with a major surge in home prices and mortgage rates in the US, a factor that some surveys have found has made Americans increasingly reluctant to relocate for jobs.

After it cancelled the project., the lawsuit was hit and said Disney’s initial plans had pushed up home prices in the area.

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Some at Disney had opted to resign rather than relocate; others opted to wait, especially after the firm informed them the project would be delayed, according to the lawsuit.

However, about 250 people had agreed to the transfer on the timeline the company had set out initially, according to the complaint.

Mr Fong sold his childhood home to move to Florida. Since his return to California this year, he is living in a smaller house.

The lawsuit said Disney “did not compensate him fairly for the damages he had suffered and would suffer,” but he agreed to transfer because he recognised that his job security was dependent on it.

Since the lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court this week, numerous others have expressed interest, Mr Lohr said.

For more updates, click here.

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