Pixar founder takes leave of absence over 'unwanted hugs' claims

The Walt Disney Animation CEO six month leave comes amid claims of unwanted physical contact

Pixar founder takes leave of absence over 'unwanted hugs' claims

John Lasseter arrives at the Los Angeles premiere for Disney Pixar's

The head of Disney animation is taking a leave of absence amid claims of unwanted physical contact with employees.

John Lasseter is best known as one of the founders of Pixar and as the director who brought CGI animation to the mainstream with the release of Toy Story in 1995.

After Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, he was installed as CEO of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar.

Under his stewardship the studio has seen unprecedented success with Mr Lasseter acting as executive producer on everything from Monster’s Inc to Frozen.

Unwanted hugs

In a letter to staff, published yesterday, Mr Lasseter said he has had a “number of difficult conversations” with staff members over recent weeks that have been “very painful for me.”

“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable,” he said. “That was never my intent.”

“Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down.

“I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form.

“No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.”

Alleged Misconduct

His letter came as the Hollywood Reporter was preparing to publish a story detailing his alleged misconduct in the workplace.

In his internal memo, Mr Lasseter said both he and Disney were, “united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner.”

“We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning,” he said.

“And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here.

“My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

Following his communication, Disney said it appreciated Mr Lasseter’s “sincere apology” adding that the company fully supports his sabbatical.