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 made about the show’s production director Ameenah Kaplan, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
James, who was in the ensemble cast and was an understudy for the leading role of Mufasa, claims Kaplan bullied him and made “unwelcome advances” on the actor during the better part of James’s time in the cast.
Since joining the team in 2018, one year after James did, Kaplan flirted with the actor and invited him out to drinks, the suit alleges.
In February 2019, Kaplan began “unreasonably” berating James and threatened to limit his performances, according to the suit.
In December of that year, Kaplan publicly taunted James after finding out about the actor’s complaints against him, provoking an argument for which only James was reprimanded, he alleges in the lawsuit.
After an investigation, Disney told James that it found the harassment claims to be baseless. James accused the giant company of “sweeping (his) complaints under the rug.”
“Disney & Lion King management allowed me to be SEXUALLY HARASSED, STALKED, THREATENED, DISRESPECTED, TAUNTED, TORMENTED, GAS-LIT, BULLIED & INTENTIONALLY PLACED IN UNSAFE SITUATIONS by a sociopathic, manipulative & dangerously 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 on its North American tour, he says in the suit. The termination was carried out “in the most callous way at the most unreasonable time” so as to send a message to other employees.
With Post Wires
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