An actor fired from Broadway’s “The Lion King” on his first day of paternity leave has accused Disney in a new lawsuit of violating his human rights.
William James Jr. has claimed he was fired, in part, in retaliation for multiple complaints he made about production manager Amina Kaplan, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
James, who was in the cast and was a replacement for the lead role of Mufasa, allegedly bullied Kaplan and made “unwelcome advances” over the actor during the better part of James’ time in the cast.
Since joining the team in 2018, one year after James joined, Kaplan flirted with the actor and invited him over for drinks, the lawsuit alleges.
In February 2019, Kaplan began berating James “unreasonably” and threatened to limit his performance, according to the lawsuit.
In December of that year, Kaplan publicly mocked James after finding out about the actor’s complaints against him, prompting an argument that James was only reprimanded for, he alleges in the lawsuit.
After investigation, Disney told James that it found the harassment allegations to be unfounded. James accused the giant of “sweeping his complaints under the rug”.
“Disney & Lion King management has allowed me to be sexually harassed, stalked, stalked, threatened, gassed, lost, and intentionally involved in unsafe situations by a sociopathic, manipulative, and dangerous manager,” James said in a 2021 tweet.
“In revenge” for speaking out, Disney fired James on the first day of paternity leave in March 2020 while the production was on its North American tour, it says in the lawsuit. The termination was carried out “in the most cruel manner at the most unreasonable of times” in order to send a message to the other employees.
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