In an escalation of a standoff over her firing from The Mandalorian, Gina Carano is suing Disney and Lucasfilm for discrimination and wrongful termination in a lawsuit that opens another front in the battlefield for influence over Hollywood that has drawn in corporate America.
Carano, in a complaint filed Tuesday in California federal court, alleges she was fired for voicing right-wing opinions on social media and seeks a court order that would force Lucasfilm to recast her. Elon Musk, making good on a promise to foot the legal bill for users who claim they have been discriminated against due to their activity on his platform, is helping fund the suit through X.
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In a statement, X’s head of business operations Joe Benarroch said, “As a sign of X Corp’s commitment to free speech, we’re proud to provide financial support for Gina Carano’s lawsuit, empowering her to seek vindication of her free speech rights on X and the ability to work without bullying, harassment, or discrimination.”
Lucasfilm in 2021 announced that Carano would not be returning to the hit series after sharing a post in which she said, “most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Naxi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
It was the latest in a long string of posts in which the former MMA fighter drew the ire of social media users for positions seen as right-wing on hot-button issues. Carano, who was dropped by UTA following the controversy, previously mocked government mandates to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic and falsely suggested that voter fraud occurred during the 2020 presidential election.
In a statement clarifying the post on X, Carano on Tuesday said, “My words were consistently twisted to demonize & dehumanize me as an alt right wing extremist.”
According to the complaint, Disney and Lucasfilm harassed and defamed Carano for refusing to conform with their viewpoints on issues relating to Black Lives Matter, preferred pronouns and disproven claims of election interference. While she was allegedly fired for her cultural and religious beliefs, Carano argues that the entertainment giant turned a blind eye to her male co-stars, who allegedly made offensive and denigrating posts directed toward Republicans. She points to Pedro Pascal’s 2017 post comparing former President Donald Trump to Hitler.
The suit says Disney required Carano, who was paid $25,000 per episode as a guest actor and later negotiated a one-time $5,000 bonus, to meet with representative of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination and demanded a public apology.
“Defendants went so far as to try and convince Carano’s publicist to force Carano to issue a statement admitting to mocking or insulting an entire group of people, which Carano had never done,” the complaint states.
After she refused, Carano was told to meet with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and 45 employees who identify as LGBTQ+, according to the suit. She declined and was terminated shortly after from The Mandalorian, as well as other titles in the Star Wars universe, including Rangers of the New Republic.
Carano also alleges Disney engaged in a “post-termination smear campaign,” citing the abrupt removal of an episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls in which she appeared from the “show’s scheduled lineup” in an “effort to malign” her. Though the episode eventually aired, Disney allegedly omitted any mention of her name and likeness in promotional materials.
The suit faults Disney’s termination of Carano as the impetus for UTA and her transactional lawyer dropping her as a client.
Carano brings claims for wrongful discharge and sex discrimination. She seeks a court order that would force Lucasfilm to recast her and at least $75,000, plus punitive damages.
“Some of us have been unjustly singled out, harassed, persecuted and had our livelihoods stripped away because we dared to encourage conversation, asked questions, and refused to go along with the mob,” she said in a statement.
At-will employees, who make up the majority of private sector workers, often face an uphill climb in obtaining damages for terminations over problematic online posts deemed to be offensive and in violation of workplace policies. Unlike employees in the public sector, such workers are not shielded against discipline under the First Amendment.
On X funding the suit, Carano added, “I am honored that my case has been chosen to be supported by the company that has been one of the last glimmers of hope for free speech in the world.”
Last year, Musk pledged to fund legal action for users on X who claim they have faced discrimination by their employers over their activity on the platform. The offer came with “no limit” on costs, with Musk saying he would “go after the boards of directors of the companies too.”
Amid a hardening position on issues such as gender politics and race in the Republican Party, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made “holding woke corporations accountable” one of the main pillars of his failed presidential campaign. Last year, he assumed control of the special tax district that controls development around Disney World in a move intended to retaliate against the company for voicing opposition to a law that limits classroom discussion on sexuality and gender.
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