A stunt coordinator is suing the Walt Disney Co., alleging a vice president has blacklisted him for defeating a workplace probe the executive initiated that ultimately vindicated the plaintiff of overbilling and workplace favoritism allegations.
Jimmy Sharp’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges retaliatory discharge/wrongful termination, intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage and preventing subsequent employment by misrepresentation/blacklisting. Sharp seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
A Disney representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Monday.
Sharp began his Hollywood career as a stuntman and transitioned to a stunt coordinator for Fox Studios in 2010, the suit states. One of his first jobs as a stunt coordinator was on the hit series “Modern Family,” on which he worked for many seasons.
Over time, Sharp was hired as stunt coordinator on about 90% of the shows being produced at Fox and he commonly was employed in that position on five to 10 shows at any time, according to the suit. His stunt coordinator credits include “Glee,” “American Horror Story,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “New Girl” and “American Crime Story,” the suit states.
In 2017, Disney announced that it was acquiring 20th Century Fox film and television studios, including the Fox Studios where Sharp worked. That year, a Disney vice president, Nissa Diederich, made a “frivolous complaint” against Sharp that was followed by a human resources investigation, the suit states. Diederich’s complaint alleged billing irregularities and workplace favoritism tied to Sharp’s father, Jim Sharp Sr., being the head of television production, the suit states.
Sharp cooperated in the probe and the complaint was later found to be unsubstantiated, the suit states.
Diederich, who allegedly initiated the investigation, set out on a campaign to retaliate against (Sharp), according to the suit.
Diederich interfered, retaliated and blacklisted Sharp to prevent the plaintiff from working on certain productions with Fox, Disney and other studios in the future and over time he was permanently removed from all shows under Diederich’s control, including all shows for writer Ryan Murphy, the suit states.
Sharp has “reached out on numerous occasions to extend an olive branch and resolve any concerns on the part of Diederich, but his efforts were ignored and his emails were not returned,” the suit alleges.
When Sharp’s father stepped down on March 31 as head of production, he was replaced by Diederich, who mounted a campaign to deliberately disrupt the plaintiff’s employment and professional business relationships in the industry, the suit states.
Beginning in April, production executives who worked under Diederich and who would hire Sharp no longer would and producers who wanted to hire him told the plaintiff they could no longer hire him, the suit states. One unit production manager allegedly said that Sharp was essentially put on a “do not hire” list.
The alleged retaliation has caused Sharp financial losses, damage to his reputation and emotional distress, the suit states.