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."