Guard fired by Disney after gun protest files lawsuit in Orlando

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Thread: Guard fired by Disney after gun protest files lawsuit in Orlando

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    VIP Member Array miklcolt45's Avatar
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    Guard fired by Disney after gun protest files lawsuit in Orlando

    Guard fired by Disney after gun protest files lawsuit in Orlando -- OrlandoSentinel.com

    Guard fired by Disney after gun protest files lawsuit in Orlando

    Scott Powers | Sentinel Staff Writer
    July 12, 2008

    Former Walt Disney World security guard Edwin Sotomayor filed a lawsuit Friday in state Circuit Court in Orlando, challenging Disney's ban on employees bringing guns to work and seeking to get his job back.

    Sotomayor, 36, of Kissimmee was fired Monday from his job as an unarmed, uniformed security officer at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Disney said he refused to cooperate with investigators who wanted to know whether he had brought a gun to work with him last Friday, as he had suggested he would. He did bring a gun -- a .45-caliber Springfield, he said -- but he would not talk with Disney officials about it because he thinks he has the right to bring the gun to work and not be subject to search.

    The dispute arose from a new Florida law that allows people with concealed-weapons permits to keep guns locked in their vehicle trunks in employee parking lots. Disney World claims it is exempt from the law because of a provision that makes exceptions for companies holding certain federal permits for use of explosives. Disney holds such a permit for its fireworks shows.

    Jon H. Gutmacher, Sotomayor's lawyer, said the burden of proof will be on Disney to show that it is exempt from the law.

    The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would force Disney to return Sotomayor to his job. Gutmacher said Sotomayor also wants Disney to say he has the right to bring his gun to work in his car, "or we'll be right back here."

    Disney spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez responded: "We have no idea what this lawsuit is about. It doesn't change our position that the exemption is clear. We won't compromise the safety of our guests and cast members at the Walt Disney World Resort."
    Gutmacher is the author of Florida Firearms, and a recognized authority on FL gun law.

    IF (and I don't know if he did/didn't) Sotomayor consulted with Gutmacher first, there is a chance that this was carefully planned to challenge Disney.

    Should be an interesting ride.

    Note Disney spokesperson's comment near end.
    No idea...my rear.
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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array ArmyCop's Avatar
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    I'd like to see the outcome of this one.
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    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Well, he's got the right guy on his side with Gutmacher!

    The problem I see is that my understanding is that he was fired for failing to cooperate with an investigation and to allow his car to be searched......both of which are requirements of any Disney employee.

    Had he fully cooperated and then been fired for having the gun, he might have a leg to stand on. As it is, Disney will simply deny that the gun had anything to do with his termination. I think he's dead in the water.

    We'll see though.
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    The problem I see is that my understanding is that he was fired for failing to cooperate with an investigation and to allow his car to be searched......
    Since Disney has no legal authority to demand a search of his vehicle, I can't see this as standing. If they thought for a second that he had a gun in the car, they would have callled the LEO's and let them deal with it.

    They didnt though. Since he refused to cooperate with an illegal request, if in fact he was fired for that, then it wont stand.

    Its a friggen amusment park for crying out loud. Its not like its a matter of national security or anything.

    Lots of ifs here though...that the lawyers will get a chance to sort out. It could prove to be interesting.
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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Since Disney has no legal authority to demand a search of his vehicle, I can't see this as standing. If they thought for a second that he had a gun in the car, they would have callled the LEO's and let them deal with it.

    They didnt though. Since he refused to cooperate with an illegal request, if in fact he was fired for that, then it wont stand.

    Its a friggen amusment park for crying out loud. Its not like its a matter of national security or anything.

    Lots of ifs here though...that the lawyers will get a chance to sort out. It could prove to be interesting.

    Words have a specific meaning. Disney has contractual authority to search his car. He broke the contract. He got fired.

    You are correct that Disney has no legal authority to conduct a search without consent, but he gave consent when he signed his employment paperwork. Edwin withdrew that consent(after telling them he would break their policy) and he was fired for refusing the search.

    I agree with David. He should have no chance of winning this case.
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    Only time will tell.
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    Senior Member Array InspectorGadget's Avatar
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    Gun or not, the employer does not have the right to "Ask" or "Search" under the law. Both the asking if they can search and in the process if they asked about a gun in his car can be considered 2 seperate counts against disney. Even if they asked the Sheriff to ask (to get around the law), they are still in violation of the law (This leads into a whole other argument about probable cause). Assuming that Disney is not exempt!!!! An employer just asking if I have a gun in my car is illegal, whether or not I actually have one. Asking to search my car for a gun is illegal, firing me for having a gun in my car (with a License) is also illegal. Having said that, there are all sorts of catch 22's to firing someone, but if you can show it was for a gun in you car you can press charges and probably make a lot of money from Disney.

    Basically from what I understand, the actual presence of a gun in your car is a side point. Sotomeyer is covered, and probably talked it all out with Mr. Gutmacher beforehand.

    A contract between 2 individuals is not valid if it is for something that is or has been made illegal as of this law that portion of his contract and anyone elses, Target, Wal Mart etc. is now void.
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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InspectorGadget View Post
    A contract between 2 individuals is not valid if it is for something that is or has been made illegal as of this law that portion of his contract and anyone elses, Target, Wal Mart etc. is now void.
    It is still illegal and against company policy to bring explosives on to Disney. It is still illegal and against company policy to bring drugs on to Disney property.

    You're chasing your tail. Disney did not fire him for having a gun. They fired him for interfering in their search. As far as your opinion of whether a search is 'illegal' because it is the employer wanting to do the search, it is completely unfounded.

    You are provided a right against unreasonable search and seizure from your Government, not from your employer. A government branch must have probable cause or a warrant to search your property without your consent. Otherwise any search is illegal.

    When you sign your employment contract/handbook, you are GIVING consent, that day and any in the future.

    It is not illegal because it is not the government doing it. It is not illegal because you consented to the search. It is not illegal because Disney did not continue to search once consent was withdrawn.

    Being as consent was a term of employment, once consent was withdrawn, the employee was terminated. As well he should have been.

    This is not some magical constitutional rights case. You are guaranteed the freedom of speech, and yet you cannot say whatever you want at work. You are guaranteed the right to assemble, but your work place limits where you can assemble, or for how long.

    An employer, by virtue of him compensating you for your time, can, and does restrict your individual rights.
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    VIP Member Array miklcolt45's Avatar
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    Actually, the more I think about this, I am coming to a different place.

    The issue Sotomayor and Gutmacher may be pursuing is whether or not it is legal for Disney to search/ask IF the new 'gun in car law' stands.

    IIRC, the law states that the employer cannot ask/search if the employee has a CWFL. Disney is claiming they can search/ask based on the fact that they have an exemption from following this law due to their fireworks license. So, this may be a test case on whether or not Disney is exempt from the law.
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    Senior Member Array InspectorGadget's Avatar
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    "Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008"
    http://www.flsenate.gov/data/session.../h050303er.pdf

    "Preservation and Protection of the
    3 Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of
    4 2008"; creating s. 790.251, F.S.; creating the
    5 "Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear
    6 Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008"; providing
    7 definitions; providing legislative findings and intent;
    8 prohibiting a public or private employer from prohibiting
    9 a customer, employee, or invitee from possessing any
    10 legally owned firearm that is lawfully possessed and
    11 locked inside or locked to a private motor vehicle in a
    12 parking lot; prohibiting a public or private employer from
    13 violating the privacy rights of a customer, employee, or
    14 invitee by verbal or written inquiry regarding the
    15 presence of a firearm inside or locked to a private motor
    16 vehicle in a parking lot or by the search of a private
    17 motor vehicle in a parking lot to ascertain the presence
    18 of a firearm within the vehicle; prohibiting actions by a
    19 public or private employer against a customer, employee,
    20 or invitee based upon verbal or written statements
    21 concerning possession of a firearm stored inside a private
    22 motor vehicle in a parking lot for lawful purposes;
    23 providing conditions under which a search of a private
    24 motor vehicle in the parking lot of a public or private
    25 employer may be conducted; prohibiting a public or private
    26 employer from conditioning employment upon specified
    27 licensure status or upon a specified agreement;
    28 prohibiting a public or private employer from attempting
    29 to prevent or prohibiting any customer, employee, or
    30 invitee from entering the parking lot of the employer's
    31 place of business because the customer's, employee's, or
    32 invitee's private motor vehicle contains a legal firearm;
    33 prohibiting public or private employers from terminating
    34 the employment of or otherwise discriminating against an
    35 employee, or expelling a customer or invitee, for
    36 exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and
    37 bear arms or for exercising the right of self-defense;
    38 providing a condition to the prohibition; providing that
    39 such prohibitions apply to all public-sector employers;
    40 providing that, when subject to the prohibitions imposed
    41 by the act, a public or private employer has no duty of
    42 care related to the actions prohibited thereunder;
    43 providing specified immunity from liability for public and
    44 private employers; providing nonapplicability of such
    45 immunity; providing construction; providing for
    46 enforcement of the act; providing for the award of
    47 reasonable personal costs and losses; providing for the
    48 award of court costs and attorney's fees; providing
    49 exceptions to the prohibitions under the act; providing
    50 applicability; providing an effective date.


    The actual full law is at the link above. This law specifically applies to employers and businesses you visit. The Law has not been struck down yet so it is valid in FL. The question at hand is Disneys Exemption.
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    I can see it now. Disney fired the employee because they consider themselves "exempt" due to the fireworks license. I'd be willing to bet that they did not inform the employee of their status or prove that they had ground to fire him because of their exemption.

    I've seen cases sort of like this get won by union employees because the company failed to present the facts to the employee at the time and just assumed that he was familiar with them.

    I'll bet the whole thing comes back to bite them in the tail.
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    Senior Member Array InspectorGadget's Avatar
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    I sooooo hope it does, but Disneys lawyers were the one's that snuck (7)(e) in under the guise of a Defense Contractor provision at the last minute. I wish Mr Sotomeyer luck, but it is up to Jon Gutmachers consideralbe skills as a lawyer to pull this one off.

    (7) (e) Property owned or leased by a public or private employer or the landlord of a public or private employer upon which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law, or property owned or leased by an employer who has obtained a permit required under 18 U.S.C. s. 842 to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in explosive materials on such property.
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    Getting an exemption under (7)(e) is a stretch that I doubt would stand in court.

    Disney is not primarily in the business of manufacture, use or storage of. Sure, they do it, but it is far away from being primary.

    They are using an exemption in a way it was not meant to be. Like I stated earlier, they are nothing but an amusement park, they are not a defense contractor, nor do they have anything to do with things that matter. Its a Mickey Mouse operation,and in the big scheme of things they dont matter.

    That right there will cost them.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Senior Member Array Shadowsbane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Getting an exemption under (7)(e) is a stretch that I doubt would stand in court.

    Disney is not primarily in the business of manufacture, use or storage of. Sure, they do it, but it is far away from being primary.

    They are using an exemption in a way it was not meant to be. Like I stated earlier, they are nothing but an amusement park, they are not a defense contractor, nor do they have anything to do with things that matter. Its a Mickey Mouse operation,and in the big scheme of things they dont matter.

    That right there will cost them.
    Isn't Disney World also legally a city in Florida. Complete with their own court?

    If so, wouldn't that also fall under the Florida premption laws?
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    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowsbane View Post
    Isn't Disney World also legally a city in Florida. Complete with their own court?

    If so, wouldn't that also fall under the Florida premption laws?
    I have been to Disney 20 times and have taken the tour of the Utilidoor (under ground) and I do know that Walt negoatied the rights to build his own airport if they were wanted to and the right to build a neclear power plant but never have seen or heard about being it is own city or their own court. Maybe you are thinking about celebration? Celebration is their own living community (Very stepforish) Weird place all houses are cookie cutter types.

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