Disney World Student Employee Fired After Tweeting a Break Room Sign Addressing On-Site Alligators
Shannon Sullivan has subsequently been re-hired to the Disney College Program
A student participating in the Disney College Program is back on Disney World staff after being fired this week for tweeting a photo of a sign that advised employees on how to respond if park guests ask about on-site alligators, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Shannon Sullivan, who works in Magic Kingdom restaurants, told the Sentinel she was disheartened when she saw the sign, which said, “If a guest asks if we have gators in the water around Tom Sawyer’s island (or any other bodies of water), the correct and appropriate response is, ‘Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have it removed.’ ”
The sign continued, asking employees to “please not say that we have seen them before.”
Sullivan shared a photo of the sign on social media because she was “very offended.” Soon after, the poster was removed – as was Sullivan. On Thursday, she said, her manager confronted her, taking her identification and escorting her from the park.
“At this point it became my morals and my integrity and what I believe in,” she told the Sentinel. “I thought if I lose my job because of that, it’s worth it to me.”
On Friday, however – after the Sentinel reached out to Disney, the paper said – Magic Kingdom Vice President Dan Cockerell personally offered Sullivan her job back.
“The story is accurate,” a Disney spokeswoman confirms to PEOPLE, adding, “It was not a company sanctioned sign.”
The spokeswoman noted that Disney does not know who posted the sign. The Sentinel said that no one else will be disciplined for the incident, and that their cast members were just trying to do the right thing.
A Disney resort source tells PEOPLE the sign appeared to be from a cast members’ only area.
“The managers can and do make their own signs to put up there,” the insider shares. “They’re announcement signs, and those are everywhere. ‘Please remember to check with your manager before leaving. Don’t park your car in that lot tomorrow because it’s being paved.’ Stuff like that.”
The source said that staff members are not authorized to put signs up in the park where public could see. In addition, staffers are not allowed to photograph private park areas.
“They’re really strict about that,” the source tells PEOPLE. “People get in trouble about what they post on social media all the time. It’s actually a pretty common issue that HR has to take care of. I’m not at all surprised that they fired her, because that’s what they do.”
Disney staff and guests have been on high alert in the wake of Lane Graves’ death – the 2-year-old who was snatched and killed by an alligator at a park resort.
Following the toddler’s death, Disney installed new warning signs and barriers around the Seven Seas Lagoon – where Graves was taken.
The signage advises guests to “stay away from the water,” and warns that there are “alligators and snakes in the area.”
In addition, employees were told during meetings last month that they should feel empowered to take action if they see anyone wading in lagoons or lakes on Disney property, a source told PEOPLE.
•With reporting by ROSE MINUTAGLIO and STEVE HELLING