John Lasseter, a Pixar Founder, Takes Leave After ‘Missteps’

LOS ANGELES — One of the Walt Disney Company’s most important executives, the Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, said he would take “a six-month sabbatical” following unspecified “missteps” that made some staffers feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.”

Mr. Lasseter made the announcement in a lengthy email sent to employees at Disney’s animation division, which he leads as chief creative officer, just before noon on Tuesday.

“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,” Mr. Lasseter wrote in the email, a copy of which was viewed by The New York Times. “No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.

Disney said in a statement: “We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”

A spokeswoman declined to comment further. Mr. Lasseter’s leave was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Mr. Lasseter is the force behind Disney franchises like “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen,” each of which generates $1 billion or more in annual revenue for the company. His departure comes one day before Disney is set to release Pixar’s latest film, “Coco,” in North American theaters.