‘Many People In Management Were Aware’: Disney Lawsuit Claims Execs Knew About Inappropriate Behavior From Exec Accused Of Sexual Assault

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Written By Maya Cantina

On Tuesday, an unnamed current Disney employee filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company and its former-Vice President of Distribution Nolan Gonzales, along with other divisions associated with the House of Mouse. The plaintiff is asking for damages for Gonzales’ alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault, along with negligence from Disney for its ex-employee regarding Gonzales (in addition to other claims). The suit claims that numerous people in management were aware of misconduct and helped cover up the former VP’s actions. 

The lawsuit, which is going through the the Los Angeles, California Superior Court, has “Jane Doe” detailing a series of incidents that occurred between her hiring as an executive assistant at Fox under Nolan Gonzales. This was years before the 2019 Disney/Fox merger until she went on a medical leave in December 2022 before being placed on another team in April 2023 in the midst of Disney’s “bloodbath” of layoffs, at the time made under CEO Bob Iger’s direction following his late 2022 return. In the suit (acquired by Deadline), the following was claimed: 

Plaintiff overheard a chairperson at Disney say that Gonzales was a pervert and that other women at the company felt the same way. Even though individuals in management were aware of Gonzales’s conduct, they concealed their knowledge from human resources.

The plaintiff, who was allegedly in her twenties at the time of being hired by Gonzales, was first asked “prying questions” concerning her dating and social life early on when she was with the company. He supposedly would “touch her at every opportunity” and often “invade her personal space,” even after she had set clear boundaries. Things escalated in 2015, when Nolan Gonzales would reportedly ask her “incessantly” to go on a date with him and “guilt her” following her decision to decline, allegeding that “she owed him for her success.” As the complaint continues: 

Plaintiff was not Gonzales’s first victim nor his last. Many employees, including
those in management, were aware of his sexually harassing behaviors to women within the
company and to others in the industry.

In the lawsuit, Jane Doe recalls being “warned” by another employee about Gonzales, and management was reportedly “incentivized to hide Gonzales’s harassment” due to the former VP generating “valuable revenue” for The Walt Disney Company. The plaintiff went on to detail an alleged Las Vegas conference in 2017 where the Jane Doe was met with additional unwanted advances before another incident led her to being allegedly pressured to go to a bar with him. That then led Gonzales to push her into an Uber and take her to his condo. 

While that incident resulted in her going home soon after, it led to months of the VP blackmailing her into having sex with her and ingesting alcohol and drugs with him. When the plaintiff attempted to cut off contact in 2018, he told other employees they were having sex. 

When the employee attempted to complain to Disney’s human resources, her concerns were allegedly “not investigated or escalated.” The whole situation led the plaintiff to reportedly become “depressed and suicidal.” It wasn’t until Gonzales allegedly made “lascivious comments” to numerous women at a 2022 conference that an investigation occurred after multiple women complained, for which the plaintiff was then interviewed. 

At this time, the Walt Disney Company, its affiliates or Nolan Gonzales have not spoken out publicly regarding the lawsuit. 

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