HR Strange But True!
April 13, 2004

We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...

For Tigger, it's probably too late for harassment class

Authorities in Orange County, Florida, have been getting lots of phone calls since their April 2 arrest of Michael C. Chartrand, the Walt Disney World employee accused of molesting a mother and daughter while working in costume as Tigger, the friendly tiger in the Winnie the Pooh stories.

By last Friday, publicity surrounding the arrest had generated 24 additional complaints of improper touching by the character. Thirteen were considered credible enough to be investigated actively, while the rest were being reviewed, authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

"It appears all of our complaints are focusing on Tigger," said sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons.

Disney, while generally refusing to discuss the new allegations, has been cooperating with the investigation and referring guests with complaints to the sheriff's office, according to authorities. The Sentinel reports that investigators are mindful that Disney could be a magnet for false claims.

In interviews with the newspaper, many of the complainants said they had been too embarrassed to come forward initially but changed their minds after learning of Chartrand's arrest.

Solomons said the timing and authenticity of the claims would be checked out as part of the probe. "Are these people trying to get into Disney's pockets? That's why we have an investigation," he said. Indeed, Disney says some of the incidents described in the complaints predate Chartrand's employment.

The Sentinel reports that Disney's costumed characters receive training before interacting with guests. Supervisors also videotape new characters' first few work days to make them aware of inappropriate touching or out-of-character behavior. Still, former characters said in interviews with the newspaper that their actions while in the bulky costumes could be misconstrued by guests.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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