One ex-Disney Cast Member has sued the Walt Disney Company three times, and after going bankrupt, is on the hunt for the next potential lawsuit.
Xonia Book is a 64-year-old woman who used to work as a security guard at Disney World. Although most Cast Members reminisce on their time at Disney with fond memories, it seems that Book left with a list of reasons she should be suing the Mouse. Reporter Gabrielle Russon shared Book’s story in Florida Politics, and the situation’s outcome leaves readers on a wild ride.
Book has sued Disney three times over the past nine years, which has left her struggling heavily. She has noted that the legal battles have cost her her health due to ongoing stress, created rifts within her family, and, as we mentioned, left her claiming bankruptcy — Book stated, “Our life was never normal again.”
Book is now, of course, no longer working for the Walt Disney Company and is disabled. Reporter Russon noted that “Book sued over allegations that the company discriminated against her and wouldn’t promote her because she’s Colombian.” Book’s attorney, Jerry Girley, saw the evidence and took on Book as a client.
“She exercised her lawful right to complain about being discriminated against,” Girley said. “If you’ve got to tangle with the corporate giant, you got to have the proper resources. You’ve got to understand … you’re running uphill.”
Book would then also accuse Disney security director Melissa Merklinger of sexually harassing her. The alleged incident seemingly took place during a photograph that was captured at a Disney event. When in court, Merklinger was questioned about a reported “toxic employees list.” This list is reported to have names of Cast Members who have “reported discrimination complaints to the state or filed lawsuits and took other action.” Book assumed she would be on the supposed list as well.
In 2017 Girley questioned Merklinger about the list, and Merklinger acknowledged Disney Human Resources created the document. That being said, Girley has stated that he has never been able to actually get his hands on the document, even though he has attempted for multiple other clients who used to work at Disney, in addition to Book.
“I’ve represented probably in excess of 20 different Disney employees. Every other case that comes up, and we asked for it (the toxic employee list), and it’s litigated extensively. It’s never produced,” Girley said recently. “I had a good faith basis to believe that it existed, but I’ve never gotten my hands on it.”
By April 2019, Book was through with litigation and was in debt $254,457. Russon noted that Book owed “$16,500 in fees and a $31,000 judgment to The Walt Disney Co. Book also was in debt for $118,000 to Merklinger in a judgment after Book lost in court,” according to the documents found. Lucky for Book; however, she was able to list her “$245,000 house, her 2015 Nissan Rogue and her 401(k) worth about $36,500 from her career at Disney — as exempt,” when filing for bankruptcy.
All of this being said, it seemed a sort of settlement was made with Disney.
Disney had reached a settlement with Book’s court-appointed bankruptcy trustee for $10,750. But, the twist here is that the money would go to the bankruptcy trustee and not Book directly. The money would have likely been used to pay off creditors. The plot of the story here thickens with the ending told by Russon.
It appears that Book has no regrets when it comes to suing Disney. She in fact is looking forward to her next lawsuit. It was not stated if the next suit would be connected to her previous claims, or if Book had another incident or circumstance that she held legal grounds in. But, considering Book is only two years out from bankruptcy, the thought of going to battle against Disney for a fourth time after losing three times may seem rather shocking to some.
Disney has been hit with lawsuits in the past, so hearing of this one is not too out of the ordinary. Most recently, one Disney Springs Guest sued The Walt Disney Company for the sum of more than $30,000.
The events which led to this “action of damages which exceeds the sum of THIRTY THOUSAND ($30,000.00) DOLLARS” to be filed saw the Plaintiff “[trip and fall] on a brick paver outside of the restaurant at or near the entrance/exit to HOUSE OF BLUES, in an area that was owned, operated or maintained by Defendant HOUSE OF BLUES.” Read more on that here. Even the Rise of the Resistance attraction has a lawsuit that surrounds it as others claim Disney stole the idea.
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