The Memo: Gina Carano's dispute with Disney makes it past its first hearing

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Gina Carano's dispute with Disney makes it past its first hearing

Tyler Rigby - 17 June 2024

Former Mandalorian star Gina Carano has had her first hearing in court where a federal judge determined that her wrongful termination lawsuit against Disney will proceed to the next stage. The lawsuit came about after Lucasfilm and Disney announced that Carano would not be returning to the Star Wars show after appearing in the first two seasons as a recurring characterThis was because Disney felt that Carano’s opinion posts on X did not align with the company’s core values. In one such statement, Carano directly compared oppression faced by Jewish people in Nazi Germany to the experience of right-wing people today. This, among other controversial comments made, eventually got #FireGinaCarano trending on social media. 

Essentially, the case will focus on whether Disney’s actions violated civil rights laws. Carano argues that she faced discrimination for voicing right-wing opinions and has therefore been scapegoated for political speech on her personal account. On the other hand, Disney claims that it has a first amendment right to distance employees that may, using said political viewpoints, negatively affect the company’s brand and the saleability of its final product. Disney cited a Boy Scouts of America dismissal case in the Supreme Court to back up its claim that a company or institution’s values can justify dismissal, even if that dismissal could breach anti-discrimination laws. The company’s lawyers also noted that Carano was not contracted for a third season anyway.  

Disney’s legal team raised these points at the hearing, but the judge took a different stance, highlighting allegations that Disney’s distancing of Carano took place to distract from other bad press hovering around the company. Carano’s counsel also pointed out that Disney can’t stand behind a free speech defence if discrimination is involved, a viewpoint that the judge seemed receptive to. Carano has Elon Musk backing herwho’s been embroiled in his own battles concerning free speechand the case could certainly affect cancel culture while illuminating the general repercussions of divisive statements made on social media.