Skip to comments.Disney Employee Suspended After Bringing Gun To Work
Posted on 07/04/2008 9:48:35 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- A new state law went on the books Tuesday saying people could bring guns to work if they kept them locked in their car. Disney, though, said it was exempt from the new law and its 62,000 employees needed to keep their guns at home.
Friday, a worker who protested the parks decision told Channel 9 he was suspended.
The worker was well aware that he could end up losing his job when he took the gun to work Friday morning, but said that the principle at stake means enough to him that he was willing to take the risk, especially on the day we celebrate the country and our freedoms.
As he pulled into work, Edwin Sotomayor recorded Sheriffs Deputies and Disney managers waiting for him. After he refused a car search, managers drove Sotomayor to their offices, questioned him further and then sent him to his normal post. Four hours into his shift, Sotomayor says he was suspended.
Disney told employees it is exempt from the new law that allows them to bring a gun to work, because it stores fireworks on site.
Disney told Channel 9 he was suspended because he wouldnt cooperate with their investigation. They also said he could be fired for carrying the gun, which he says is about safety on his ride to work.
Sotomayor says hes willing to be the test case for the new law, even if it means losing his job and going to work.
Disney is investigating the case internally. While Disney employee files are confidential, sources day Sotomayor has been disciplined by Disney in the past. Sotomayor insists he is testing this law on his own and hasnt been contacted by groups like the NRA.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A Disney security guard told Eyewitness News he's okay with being fired rather than go to work unprotected. Disney claims it's exempt from a new state law that allows employees to keep handguns in their cars.
The employee Eyewitness News talked with is not concerned about safety at the park. He's concerned about a rise in crime everywhere else.
As a security guard, Edwin Sotomayer works strange hours and says he has a right to feel safe when he is commuting to and from the theme parks. He has been a Disney security guard for more than 13 years, but he's willing to lose his job to stand up for his right to bring a gun to work
"I am going to be a test tube of this new law. If I am the first one to get fired at Disney, let it be," he said.
Disney claims it's exempt from a new state law allowing employees to carry guns in their cars because it stores fireworks, but Sotomayer says Disney is violating his rights and he plans to challenge the company Friday by putting his gun in a case and keeping it in his car while he works security at Animal Kingdom.
"It's the law and the law is there to protect me. I hope somebody is listening to me up there too," he said.
Sotomayer said he wants to be able to protect himself from Orlando's growing crime problem
Channel 9 found a 43 percent increase in the number of calls for service to Disney in the last year, but also found the Orange County Sheriff's Office didn't file a report on most of the calls. Deputies said they will not file a report if the incident does not rise to the level of a crime.
Sotomayer said Disney is safe, but Orlando is not, and he has the right to keep a gun in his car so he is protected during his 23-mile commute to and from the theme park.
"The criminals don't care. If they have to kill someone, they will," he said.
Disney told Eyewitness News it respects Sotomayer's opinion, but safety is its top priority and employees who bring guns to work risk getting fired. Sotomayer has already hired an attorney.
He is not the only one who is upset. The NRA and the State Attorney General have also received complaints.
I don’t understand why Disney would care if the gun was in his car. If he straps it on and walks around the park, that would be a little different.
So mickey is worried about rounds cooking off in someone’s car may cause a catastrophic event with their fireworks.
Damn mickey, why sell food, someone may choke.
Glad to know Disney just can declare that state law does not apply to them.
He’s gonna lose this one.
Love that tagline!
does business owner’s rights trump 2BA?
Because, Disney will get themselves labeled a ‘sensitive area’ and according to Heller v. DC that will allow for the restriction of Rights.
It’s only gonna get worse.
this reminds me.....in 1978, I was given a Smith Model 66 stainless .357 magnum that an ex-Mickey employee had “gotten ahold of” from the jungle ride when he worked there in Kissimmee
gave it to my best friend’s mom.
funny to think back now
There probably aren't many businesses that can even claim to "store fireworks". Disney may have had a friendly legislator put that little protection into the new law just for them.
Those were the early days at WDW. I’ve heard they have some pretty tough security cats down there.
The "Mouse" has far more power than people know! They set up their own "Government" (Reedy Creek Improvement District) many years ago. They have PERMANENT "Temporary Flight Restricted" areas, (FAA TFRs) over their parks, etc.
Years ago, they "owned" the local media and could quash any stories which reflected negatively on them (no more).
As for the employee fighting their refusal to comply with state law, it is necessary to have an adversely impacted party to ensure that the lawsuit against them will not be summarily dismissed.
Actually, they arranged for the "last minute" change in the state law which they claim exempts them! They will undoubtedly win any challenge to the existing law (necessitating an amendment in the next legislative session).
Don’t think so. He followed the law with the gun in his locked personal vehicle. Put another way, the gun was inside his property and not on Disney’s.
Let me guess, you’re upset with Heller Vs. Washington D.C. for some reason.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want a gun anywhere near someone who has to listen to “It’s a Small World” all day.
Sure. It limits your rights in your own home and in the public domain.
The NRA newsletter:
FLORIDA: Guns in Parking Lots Law Took Effect Tuesday, July 1! On Tuesday, July 1, House Bill 503 went into effect. Under the new law, any business or employer who violates the constitutional and statutory right of customers or employees to have firearms locked in their private vehicles can now be punished. Also, under this new law, business owners will benefit from immunity from liability if guns stored in vehicles in the businesses parking lot are used to cause harm on the business property. THE LAW APPLIES TO ALL BUSINESSES, ALL CUSTOMERS & EMPLOYEES.
I wish the article had been more complete concerning the search of his vehicle. Was it in fact searched without his permission and was there a gun in the vehicle? Or did he just admit to having a gun in the vehicle? It sounds like his 14th amendment rights may have been violated, but kind of hard to tell with such sketchy info.
There is no longer a handgun ban in Morton Grove and Winnetka, Illinois because of the Heller decision.
The NRA is suing Chicago, Oak Park and two other cities in Illinois based on the Heller decision.
Oh, I forgot to mention. GOA = AWOL
"Gawrsh, Ah'm packin'!"
Boycott Disney until Edwin Sotomayor gets an apology and his job back.
We can do without all things Disney.
We need the second amendment.
I’m pretty sure they don’t store fireworks on the land for the Animal Kingdom.
Why would having fireworks around be an issue?
A couple things don’t make sense about this story:
The article says managers and law enforcement were waiting for this guy when he pulled into work. How would they know before he even got to work whether he had a gun? Would they be allowed to search his car without his permission to look for any guns?
Also, the article in post three actually says the employee is a security guard. Wouldn’t he have his carry weapon on him anyway? Is this a different weapon he wants to keep in his car? It’d be one thing for Disney to worry about the guy in the Goofy costume having a weapon in his car (not that they should), but if this is a security guard anyway why should they care about what’s in his car?
I think there has to be more to this story, and while I don’t see how Disney could be in the right here, I’d like to see a further explanation.
He refused consent to search, which I assume was the Disney's reason he failed cooperate with their investigation.
How you get fired for exercising you rights, I don't understand.
Actually Disney is exempt because Disney polices their own unconstitutional township and makes sure that very few people die on their property.
Hes gonna lose this one.
If he does it’s only because of Disneys money... Section 6(d) doesn’t cover Disney as their PRIMARY business is entertainment , not fireworks or fuel refining or any other covered activity .. heres the statute .. 790.251
Section 1. Section 790.251, florida statutes, is created to read:
790.251 protection of the right to keep and bear arms in motor vehicles for self-defense and other lawful purposes; prohibited acts; duty of public and private entities and employers; immunity from liability; enforcement.—
(1) legislative intent; findings.—this act is intended to codify the long-standing legislative policy of the state that individual citizens have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, that they have a constitutional right to possess and keep legally owned firearms within their motor vehicles for self- defense and other lawful purposes, and that these rights are not abrogated by virtue of a citizen becoming a customer, employee, or invitee of a business entity. It is the finding of the legislature that a citizen’s Lawful possession, transportation, and secure keeping of firearms and ammunition within his or her motor vehicle is essential to the exercise of the fundamental constitutional right to keep and bear arms and the constitutional right of self-defense. The legislature finds that protecting and preserving these rights is essential to the exercise of freedom and individual responsibility. The legislature further finds that no citizen can or should be required to waive or abrogate his or her right to possess and securely keep firearms and ammunition locked within his or her motor vehicle by virtue of Becoming a customer, employee, or invitee of any employer or business establishment within the state.
(2) prohibited acts.—no public or private entity may violate the
Constitutional rights of any customer, employee, or invitee as provided in paragraphs (a)-(e):
(a) no public or private entity may prohibit any customer, employee, or invitee from possessing any legally owned firearm when such firearm is lawfully possessed and locked inside or locked to a private motor vehicle in a parking lot and when the customer, employee, or invitee is lawfully in such area.
(b) no public or private entity may violate the privacy rights of a customer, employee, or invitee by verbal or written inquiry regarding the presence of a firearm inside a private motor vehicle in a parking lot or by an actual search of a private motor vehicle in a parking lot to ascertain the presence of a firearm within the vehicle. Further, no public or private entity may take any action against a customer, employee, or invitee based upon verbal or written statements of any party concerning possession of a firearm stored inside a private motor vehicle in a parking lot for lawful purposes. A search of a private motor vehicle in the parking lot of a public or private entity to ascertain the presence of a firearm within the vehicle may only be conducted by on-duty law enforcement personnel based upon due process and must comply with constitutional protections.
(c) no employer shall condition employment upon either:
1. The fact that an employee or prospective employee holds or does not hold a license issued pursuant to s. 790.06; or
2. Any agreement by an employee or a prospective employee that prohibits an employee from keeping a legal firearm locked inside a motor vehicle when such firearm is kept for lawful purposes.
(d) no employer shall prohibit or attempt to prevent any customer, employee, or invitee from entering the parking lot of the employer’s place of business because the customer’s, employee’s, or invitee’s motor vehicle contains a legal firearm, being carried for lawful purposes, that is out of sight within the customer’s, employee’s, or invitee’s motor vehicle.
(e) no employer may terminate the employment of or otherwise discriminate against an employee, or expel a customer or invitee, for exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms or for exercising the right of self-defense as long as a firearm is never exhibited on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes. This subsection applies to all public-sector employers, including those already prohibited from regulating firearms under the provisions of s. 790.33.
(3) duty of public and private entities and employers; immunity from liability.—
(a) except for public or private entities and employers subject to the exceptions of subsection (6), a public or private entity or employer has no duty to:]
1. Prohibit any customer, employee, or invitee from possessing a legal firearm in a locked motor vehicle in the entity’s or employer’s parking lot;
2. Search a motor vehicle in the entity’s or employer’s parking lot or inquire regarding the presence of a firearm in a locked motor vehicle in the entity’s or employer’s parking lot;
3. Condition employment upon an agreement regarding the employee’s possession of a legal firearm within a locked motor vehicle in the entity’s or employer’s parking lot; or
4. Terminate the employment of an employee for exercising his or her right to bear arms or for exercising the right of self-defense, as long as a firearm is never exhibited on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes.
(b) except for public or private entities and employers subject to the exceptions of subsection (6), a public or private entity or employer is not liable in a civil action based on actions or inactions taken in compliance with this section. The immunity provided in this subsection does not apply to civil actions based on actions or inactions of public or private entities or employers that are unrelated to compliance with this section.
(4) enforcement.—the attorney general shall enforce the protections of this act on behalf of any customer, employee, or invitee aggrieved under this act. If there is reasonable cause to believe that the aggrieved person’s rights under this act have been violated by a public or private entity, the attorney general shall commence a civil or administrative action for damages,
Injunctive relief and civil penalties, and such other relief as may be Appropriate under the provisions of s. 760.51, or may negotiate a settlement with any employer on behalf of any person aggrieved under the act. However, nothing in this act shall prohibit the right of a person aggrieved under this act to bring a civil action for violation of rights protected under the act.
In any successful action brought by a customer, employee, or invitee aggrieved under this act, the court shall award all court costs, attorney’s fees, and reasonable personal costs and losses suffered by the aggrieved person as a result of the violation of rights under this act.
(5) definitions.—as used in this section, the term:
(a) “parking lot” means any property that is used for parking motor vehicles and is available to customers, employees, or invitees for temporary or long-term parking or storage of motor vehicles.
(b) “motor vehicle” means any automobile, truck, mini-van, sports utility vehicle, motor home, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, motor scooter, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state and required to be registered under state law.
(c) “employee” means any person who possesses a valid license issued pursuant to s. 790.06 and:
1. Works for salary, wages, or other remuneration;
2. Is an independent contractor; or
3. Is a volunteer, intern, or other similar individual for an employer.
(d) “employer” means any business that is a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, professional association, cooperative, joint venture, trust, firm, institution, or association, or public-sector entity, that has employees.
(e) “invitee” means any business invitee, including a customer or visitor, who is lawfully on the premises of an entity described in paragraph (d). As used in this section, the term “firearm” includes ammunition and accouterments attendant to the lawful possession and use of a firearm.
(6) exceptions.—the prohibitions in subsection (2) do not apply to:
(a) any school property as defined and regulated under s. 790.115.]
(b) any state correctional institution regulated under s. 944.47.
(c) property owned or leased by an employer or the landlord of an employer upon which are conducted substantial activities involving national defense, aerospace, or domestic security.
(d) property owned or leased by an employer or the landlord of an employer upon which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law.
(e) a motor vehicle owned, leased, or rented by an employer or the landlord of an employer.
(f) any other property owned or leased by an employer or the landlord of an employer upon which possession of a firearm or other legal product by a customer, employee, or invitee is prohibited pursuant to any federal law or any general law of this state on the effective date of this act.
(7) short title.—this section may be cited as the “preservation and protection of the right to keep and bear arms in motor vehicles act of 2008.”
I dont understand why Disney would care if the gun was in his car. If he straps it on and walks around the park, that would be a little different.
He’s a security guard Disneys GIVES him a gun to strap on and walk around the park with.
Wonder if this will take on a property rights slant? Does a property owner have the right to ban guns from their site?...was the parking lot on private party? This could turn that way.
Just to clarify my first post to say that Disneys PRIMARY business is fireworks is to give every company a pass ... 6(d) does not cover the local bakery for instance JUST BECAUSE they have an underground fuel tank and some pumps for their delivery trucks ,, it is INCIDENTAL to their business ... HUGE difference.
Disney does as they damn well please here in Central Florida. The politicians are scared to death of Disney. They have their own police force. The local police are not allowed on Disney property unless Disney calls them.
Walt Disney World fires back on guns at work
Scott Powers and Jason Garcia
Sentinel Staff Writers
July 3, 2008
Walt Disney World employees won’t be packing any heat in the company parking lots anytime soon.
The giant resort has declared that much of its sprawling property is exempt from a new state law that allows Floridians with concealed-weapons permits to keep firearms locked in their cars at work.
Disney, which has 60,000 employees and a long-standing policy against allowing guns on its land, cites an arcane — and late-added — loophole in the new law, which took effect Tuesday.
The company’s position stunned backers of the new law, who said Wednesday that they never intended to exempt Florida’s largest single-site employer.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said state Sen. Durell Peaden, a Panhandle Republican and one of the authors of the bill.
Other theme parks also might hold appropriate explosives permits because of their fireworks programs.
But Universal Orlando is claiming a different exemption: The resort houses a work-study program, the Universal Education Center, that is staffed by Orange County Public Schools.
“We are required to follow school-district policies,” spokesman Tom Schroder said. “The Orange County Public School System is exempt from this law. We have so informed our team members.”
SeaWorld takes an entirely different approach: That company supports the rights of its employees or visitors to transport legal firearms in their cars, “and we have for some time,” spokeswoman Becca Bides said.
I know also its pretty hard to say anything negative about Disney or the parks on most Disney forums, as soon as you do you get clamped down good.
If this gets past the MIB (Mouse in Black) it could very well set a precedent.
What the hell are they scared of? Does anyone actually believe a pissed off Disney would LEAVE the area and build another park elsewhere that would cost them probably 10 times what the one they have cost?
I doubt it.
The NRA is suing Chicago, Oak Park and two other cities in Illinois based on the Heller decision.
Are you sure about that? I believe that the law suits are to answer the question of "incorporation," meaning that the constitutionally protected right affirmed by Heller applies not only to federal, but state and local laws as well. Remember that DC is a federal enclave without "home rule."
Until the 14th Amendment, the Constitution and BOR were taken to restrict ONLY the federal government, not state or local governments. With the 14th, CERTAIN constitutionally protected rights can "flow down" to the laws of state and local governments as well. I've never understood why this is.
If it's an "at will employment" state, then someone can be fired for any reason, with a few exceptions.
This is a topic that I've been torn about for a long time. The conflict between personal rights to defend yourself and the property rights of a business or property owner.
Remember, according to the SCOTUS, there are limits to any constitutionally protected rights. So I do believe that a property owner should be able to ban anyone carrying weapons onto their property. I also believe that by doing so, they should be held criminally and civilly liable for any harm that might come to someone from being unarmed - Imagine another situation like the Luby's massacre in Killeen, TX.
If the property owner doesn't want you on their property while carrying a weapon, you should comply and stay away. Can the property owner search you for weapons? I don't know. I suppose that you could be banned from the property for refusing to be searched. But once you're on the property, the search could only be done by permission.
And if you're on his property and admit that you've brought a weapon in, he should be able to demand that you leave immediately. If you refuse, he should be able to call the police and file criminal trespassing charges against you.
It's a very sticky subject, trying to balance the rights of one person to those of another.
Yes, I’m positive. Join the NRA so you can learn more.
This employee had his gun locked inside his property[vehicle]. It’s none of Disney’s business unless he took it out and walked onto Disney’s property. The law was created to protect those travelling to and from work.
The employee stated Disney’s property is safe but Orlando isn’t.
"And if you're on his property and admit that you've brought a weapon in, he should be able to demand that you leave immediately. If you refuse, he should be able to call the police and file criminal trespassing charges against you."
That is merely your (in this case, worthless) opinion. Read the law. [in comment #30]
Your vehicle is a legal extension of your home (your "castle"). The property owner's rights end at the surface of his pavement. He has no more right to search or define what may be in your vehicle than he has to do so in your home.
The property owner can not discriminate. If he bans any vehicle from parking on his property, he must ban all. (Disney: can you spell, "out of business"?)
Boycott Disney, support Sea World.....
I wonder why defense contractors and people involved in the aerospace industry aren’t considered good risks for carrying their own guns in their cars.
I understand why people don’t trust NEA members to have guns in their cars. :-)
Jindal signs bill governing guns at the workplace
NRA? Who's that?
It's further complicated by the state unemployment system, which requires one to accept employment if offered. If one is offered employment by a company which would require one to be vulnerable to attack going to and from work, can one refuse such an offer while continuing to receive unemployment compensation?
If so, that would open up a huge loophole for lazy people who don't really want a job. If not, that would imply the state itself was conditioning its aid upon people's willingness to accept disarmament.
Even if they did, it is a far stretch from that to claim that storing fireworks is Disney's "primary" business. Any business could buy some fireworks in an attempt to circumvent the law.
It fascinates me that a majority of Florida legislators have made the decision that the right to keep and bear arms trumps the private property rights of businesses. I think it is a good thing.
Disney is still allowed to disarm people to their hearts content when outside their vehicles. That should suffice to meet their requirements of helplessness. To address this matter, I would expect to see a law dictating unlimited liability for doing so. It's hardly any different than requiring that customers swim through shark-infested waters to enter the park.
The NRA is suing Chicago, Oak Park and two other cities in Illinois based on the Heller decision.
Are you sure about that?
Yes, Im positive. Join the NRA so you can learn more.
First off, those "other two cities" you mentioned ARE Morton Grove and Winnetka. So if the ban is no more, why is the NRA suing those cities?
And if you go to the ILA web site, and look up http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/NewsReleases.aspx?ID=11220 you'll see that the NRA is filing the law suits to try to affirm incorporation.
So maybe YOU should join the NRA. I've only been a member since the mid 1970s, and a life member for about 18 or so years.