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Disney Worker Fired, Rehired Over Tweet About Alligators

July 20, 2016

A Disney College Program participant working in Magic Kingdom restaurants was fired and subsequently rehired after she Tweeted a picture of a sign posted in the breakroom regarding gators.

If guests ask whether there are alligators in the water around the Magic Kingdom’s Tom Sawyer Island, the sign told employees, the correct answer is: “Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have them removed.’ Please do not say that we have seen them before.”

She tweeted out a picture of the sign, which was typed on paper in several different colors

Disney quickly removed the sign, which the company had not authorized to be posted. Around the same time, the female was fired.

The Orlando Sentinel inquired about the girl’s termination on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, Magic Kingdom Vice President Dan Cockerell paid a personal visit to Sullivan to offer her the job back. She will return to work until later this month, when her internship was originally scheduled to end, according to reports.

When visitors ask about alligators, Disney said it has advised workers to acknowledge that parts of the theme-park resort can attract wildlife. They are also supposed to tell guests to notify security if they see any alligators.

Disney said it does not know who posted the sign and that no one else is being disciplined over the incident. Cast members were trying to do the right thing, the company said.

“We do not want our Guests to be afraid while walking around Frontierland,” the sign read.

The female staff member said she knew sharing a picture of the sign on social media might get her in trouble, but she was bothered by the idea of misleading visitors.

She said a manager confronted her Thursday with the tweet, told her that her College Program stint would end early and took her identification. She was then escorted from the park.

Awareness of alligators has been heightened after one snatched a 2-year-old from the shore of Seven Seas Lagoon last month, dragging him into the water and killing him. Since then, many guests have come forward with stories of Disney gator sightings.

Emails obtained by the Orlando Sentinel this week showed Disney firefighters had been admonished for feeding alligators on the property.

The Rivers of America around Tom Sawyer Island is one place where people have spotted alligators in the past.

While just about everyone has their own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog or any other type of social network account, you are ultimately responsible for what you post and who sees it. No matter what social networking site you are posting on, you have to be careful about what you write and choose to share with the public at large. You could be terminated for entries that your employer may read and does not like or agree with. However, there are certain limits to what an employer can do regarding posts that employees make during their own private time away from the workplace.

In this particular case, whistleblower laws apply – employees who raise concerns about illegal activities or safety hazards in the workplace on their private social media accounts. Whistleblowers are actually doing their part to keep the public safe from anything illegal or dangerous, which is why these laws are in place to protect those brave enough to come forward against workplace retaliation.

If you have any reservations about what an employer may read on your social network accounts, it is best to refrain from posting about the subject. However, if it is appropriate and you were fired, our Florida Employment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online.