Conservative legal group accuses Disney of violating civil rights, religious freedom laws

Has Disney become a political agency?

New York Post’s Karol Markowicz discusses how Disney is pushing back against Florida’s parental rights bill and how she is quitting the park on ‘Fox Business Tonight.’

FIRST ON FOX: A conservative legal group set up by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller on Tuesday sent a letter to The Walt Disney Company Chair Susan Arnold accusing company executives of choosing to "discriminate," "alienate the Company’s core customers" and even "violate the law."

American First Legal (AFL) senior counselor Reed Rubinstein argues in a letter written on behalf of "concerned shareholders and customers of" Disney that the company's management "may be" in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; Florida's Civil Rights Act; and California Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102.

"The decision of The Walt Disney Corporation to promote the introduction of age-inappropriate sexual material in kindergarten classrooms, including radical gender ideology, and to fight the democratically-elected government of Florida in order to achieve this end, jeopardizes the financial future of the company and its shareholders in service of an extreme political agenda," AFL President Miller told FOX Business. "The Board of Directors has a fiduciary obligation to ensure it fulfills its duty of oversight, and should provide answers to its shareholders without delay."

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The financial risk to Disney, according to the legal group, includes potentially driving away employees and customers as well as the potential risk of litigation costs if there is probable cause the company broke the law.

"Apparently, the Company’s executives have chosen to discriminate, create a hostile work environment, and drive away creative, loyal, and talented employees; alienate the Company’s core customers; and violate the law, all for the purpose of advancing a very narrow political and social agenda promoting, inter alia, sexualizing content provided to young children," the letter to Disney states. "Accordingly, management has placed the Company’s assets, including its brand, reputation, and good will, at risk."

AFL cites an open letter from an unspecified number of Disney employees criticizing the company's political statements, as well as an article published on Quillette, an online magazine, from someone claiming to be a "company insider" condemning the group's internal messaging. 

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The article describes an environment in which some Disney employees allegedly found themselves "the target of scrutiny and likely termination" if they spoke out against Disney's political stances.

"[I]t seems the Company’s executives are engaging in systemic discrimination against religious believers and creating a hostile work environment to silence them and/or drive them out of the Company; unlawfully favoring some individuals and discriminating against others with respect to the terms," the AFL letter states.

The entrance to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

AFL's letter comes after Disney announced last week that it will work to repeal Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' new Parental Rights in Education law because the company is dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of the LGBTQ+ community. 

DeSantis signed the bill, which bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, into law last week. Critics have depicted the legislation as hurtful to LGBTQ inclusiveness and dubbed it the "Don't Say Gay" bill. 

"Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law," the Disney statement said. "Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that."

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the Eau Gallie High School aviation hangar in Melbourne, Florida, on March 22. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Nothing in the Florida legislation itself mentions the word "gay." It states that "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."

The bill also requires procedures for schools to discuss matters of "mental, emotional or physical health or well-being" with parents.

FOX Business' Marisa Schultz, Andrew Murray and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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