ESPNZone Closing Was Handled Illegally, Say Fired Workers in Lawsuit
A group of laid-off ESPNZone workers will file a class-action lawsuit against Disney, the parent company of the sports and entertainment and bar food empire. The suit will allege that Disney did not provide legal notice to the employees at its Baltimore restaurant before canning them.
Disney closed the Inner Harbor and Downtown D.C. outposts in June, as part of a national bloodletting this summer that ended with all but its Southern California ESPNZone points shuttered.
The workers, many of whom lost their jobs overnight, say they were entitled by way of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, an employee rights package, to 60 days notice that they'd be out of work.
"The only reason [Disney] closed these restaurants so quickly was because of a media leak," Ashley Hufnagel, spokesperson for United Workers, a Baltimore group that organized the ESPNZone workers, told me at the time of the mass firings.
Disney's failure to give proper notice caused "homelessness, childcare needs and the prospect of dropping out of school" to members of the restaurant staff, United Workers alleges.
"Corporate executives think they can break the law and just get away with it, because harbor developers do not enforce any human rights standards," said Debra Cook, a plaintiff and former ESPNZone cook, in announcing the suit, "but we are human beings and we have the right to dignity and respect."
To get publicity for their cause, the workers will stage a rally and march on Monday beginning at the Power Plant, adjacent to the site of their now-departed workplace.