State Rep. Bryan Ávila, a top leader of the Florida House, is claiming that Disney employees’ diversity training program includes exercises where employees complete a “white privilege checklist,” which could put the company in violation of a new law he’s sponsoring.
Ávila’s office did not respond Wednesday when asked for the source of his information, but it appears to come from a conservative magazine that obtained a document and information purportedly from Disney employees in May.
Disney has previously said elements of its employee diversity, equity and inclusion program were taken out of context. Representatives for Walt Disney World did not respond when reached for comment.
Ávila, R-Miami Springs, made the remark when answering questions from other representatives during a committee meeting on House Bill 7, and said the training “claim[s] and outlin[es] that America was founded on ‘systemic racism,’ ” and called it “beyond egregious” and “despicable.”
He cited American Express, Coca-Cola and CVS as other examples of companies that he said force employees into feeling guilty over their racial or gender identity through employee training.
HB 7 would restrict discussions on race and identity in schools and the workplace and consider instruction that causes someone to feel distress over the issue as discriminatory. The measure is in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ calls to battle “woke” educators and corporations in Florida.
The State Affairs Committee approved the bill Tuesday and it moved to the Education & Employment Committee.
Eric Clinton, president of the union that represents Disney workers in roles including attractions and custodial work, said Ávila’s claims were “absurd.”
He has never experienced the type of training Ávila referenced in 24 years of working at Disney, he said.
“If Representative Ávila was genuinely concerned about the issues facing cast members, he would spend time legislating affordable housing and health care control costs and COVID workplace safety procedures,” Clinton said. “Those are the real issues facing Disney cast members at the moment, not what he’s talking about.”
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