Workers sue Disney after moving for cancelled Florida project


Disney workers are suing the company for damages after they were told to move across the country for a project that was later cancelled.

In a proposed class action lawsuit, they accuse the media giant of misrepresenting its plans when it announced in 2021 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 less than two years later, the company reversed course.

The complaint says staff had relied on Disney’s claims when they uprooted their lives, incurring major moving expenses as they sold family homes and bought new ones.

“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 Maria de la Cruz, a vice president of product design, and George Fong, creative director of product design.

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

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 have made Americans increasingly reluctant to relocate for jobs.

The lawsuit said Disney’s initial plans had pushed up home prices in the area, which were hit after it cancelled the project.

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.

But 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.

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