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 claims he was fired, in part, in retaliation for multiple complaints he filed against the show’s production manager, Ameenah Kaplan, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
James, who was part of the ensemble cast and was a stunt double for Mufasa’s lead role, claims Kaplan bullied him and made “unwelcome advances” at the actor for most of James’ time in the distribution.
Since joining the team in 2018, a year after James, Kaplan has flirted with the actor and asked him out for drinks, according to the lawsuit.
In February 2019, Kaplan began “unreasonably” berating James and threatened to limit his performance, according to the lawsuit.
In December that year, Kaplan publicly taunted James after discovering the actor’s complaints against him, sparking an argument for which only James was reprimanded, he alleges in the lawsuit.
After an investigation, Disney told James it had concluded the harassment allegations were without merit. James accused the giant company of “sweeping (its) complaints under the rug”.
“The management of Disney and The Lion King allowed me to be sexually harassed, harassed, threatened, scorned, taunted, tormented, gassed, bullied and intentionally placed in dangerous situations by a sociopathic, manipulative and dangerous director” , James said in a 2021 tweet.
As “revenge” for speaking out, Disney fired James on the first day of his paternity leave in March 2020 while the production was touring North America, he says in the suit. The dismissal was carried out “in the most insensitive way at the most unreasonable time” in order to send a message to other employees.
With pole wires