Gina Carano Sues Disney Over Mandalorian Departure

Former actor Gina Carano has filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Corporation and Lucasfilm for alleged wrongful termination. The suit was filed in federal court in California. Carano alleges she was fired from her role on the Disney+ show Mandalorian for voicing right-wing opinions online. She is seeking a court order requiring Lucasfilm reinstate her or compensate her for at least $75,000. Carano claims in the suit that she suffered emotional damage and lost millions of dollars in income. Carano also claims that Disney and Lucasfilm discriminated against her, and alleges that male colleagues were not held to similar standards.

Carano stated that X, formerly known as Twitter, was covering the costs of the suit. She alleges that she had been the target of a “bullying smear campaign” intended to make “an example out of me” by others. In February 2021, Carano posted on Instagram comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust. She had also suggested voter fraud had occurred in the 2020 presidential election and put “beep/bop/boop” in her then Twitter profile after fans asked her to display her pronouns in her account’s bio. Pedro Pascal, the current lead actor of Mandalorian, has a trans sister whom he supports.

Lucasfilm in 2021 had put out a statement stating that Carano was not currently employed with them and that her social media posts denigrating people based on cultural and religious identities were “abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Private Corporations Are Not Subject to the First Amendment

Carano’s lawsuit spends countless pages complaining that her political views about Covid-19, the 2020 election, and transgender persons were either not protected by or punished by Disney while the politically liberal views of her male colleagues were ignored by the corporation.

Normally, it is not possible to sue an employer for discrimination based on political views. Political views are not a protected class under the Constitution or the Civil Rights Act. However, California is one the few states that has laws against political affiliation discrimination. California Labor Code Section 1101 prohibits employers from making, adopting, or enforcing any rule, regulation, or policy forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office, or controlling or directing the political activities or affiliations of employees.

Notably, Labor Code Section 1101 only prohibits an employer from forbidding or preventing employees from participating in politics. It does not require an employer to protect an employee from comments made against the employee by others. Carnao’s lawsuit complains extensively that social media users were heckling her online and that Disney did nothing to stop it. However, no employer has an obligation to protect their employees from public scrutiny for non-work related criticism.

Wrongful Termination Is Not Applicable to Independent Contractors

The lawsuit is premised on the idea that Carano was terminated or discharged because of her political views. However, wrongful termination only applies to employees. Independent

contractors cannot make a wrongful termination claim since they are neither employees nor are they terminated from their position.

Carano completed filming in the first two seasons of the Mandalorian and then Disney declined to renew her contract for a third season. Characters are often written out of shows based on a number of reasons and their actors are not invited to return when they are.

In Mandalorian, Ming-Na Wen, Emily Swallow, Taika Waititi were actors who were on the show in season 1 but then were dropped in season 2 or 3. However, it would be incorrect to claim that any of them were fired from the show. Their roles were finished on Mandalorian and Disney chose not to have them on the show anymore.

Indeed, actors are often free to take on additional work while they are working for a studio. Pedro Pascal, the lead actor of Mandalorian, also starred as the lead actor in the HBO show The Last of Us. The contractor nature of acting allows actors to freely move around, just as studios have the freedom to renew contracts with actors as the creative demands of the shows require. Carano’s position that Disney fired her stands in contrast with the independent contractor nature of her industry.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Wrongful Termination Case?

If you are involved in any type of workplace dispute or you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important to consult with a well-qualified and knowledgeable employment attorney. A qualified attorney can review your case and explain your options. If you have been wrongfully terminated or accused of wrongfully firing an employee, an attorney can represent you in court.

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