As Disney’s stock price continues to drop after numerous public scandals and disappointing returns at the box office, Disney theme parks are back in the spotlight as more former employees are suing the company for violating their civil rights.
Three former employees have sued Walt Disney World after claiming that they were fired for refusing to wear face masks and get the COVID-19 vaccine due to religious reasons, according to the lawsuit.
Barbara Andreas, Stephen Cribb, and Adam Pajer filed the lawsuit back on June 30 which states that Disney discriminated against them by not accommodating their requests to be exempt from the company’s mandates requiring the vaccine and facial coverings. Andres and Cribb were fired in March, while Pajer was let go in June, according to the lawsuit. The trio had worked for the company for many years.
The vaccine mandates were issued as part of a plan from the Biden Administration to weaponize employment status as a means to increase COVID vaccination numbers. Disney’s vaccine mandate was suspended in November after Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers limited the power of employers to require workers to be vaccinated.
The lawsuit claims that Disney’s “augmented protocols” that were forced on non-vaccinated employees consisted of “harsh isolation and restrictions” that caused “serious breathing” and made it “nearly impossible to find a compliant manner and location in which to eat or drink while on shift.”
Disney responded to the employee requests on December 29, saying that “after careful review of the information you provided, we are unable to conclude that you are prevented from wearing a face cover due to a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance.”
Across all of its subsidiaries, Disney has enforced COVID vaccine mandates as a term of employment. ESPN’s college football sideline reporter Allison Williams quit last year due to the cable sports network vaccine mandate. Williams said that she refused to take the vaccine because she and her husband were trying to get pregnant, and she did not want to risk any complications.
Williams announced she was leaving the network because her “request for accommodation” was denied by ESPN executives. “Belief is a word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately because in addition to the medical apprehensions regarding my desire to have another child in regards to receiving this injection, I am also so morally and ethically not aligned with this. And I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals, and, ultimately, I need to put them first,” she said.
“And the irony in all this is that a lot of these same values and morals that I hold dear are what made me a really good employee, what helped with the success that I’m able to have in my career.”
Back in June, two former General Hospital crew members sued ABC for being fired because they weren’t vaccinated. Jim Wahl and Timothy Wahl claim the Disney-owned network wrongfully terminated them after being fired for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Disney also denied their requests for religious exemptions to the Covid Vaccine Mandate on Nov. 9, 2021, according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court for wrongful termination and four other claims.
“It gave no reason for its decision, except to say that the company was ‘unable to conclude that you are prevented from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine due to a sincerely-held religious belief, practice, or observance,'” the filing states.
Calling the network’s vaccine mandate “unconstitutional,” the complaint continues, “ABC does not have the authority to force a medical treatment on its employees against their will. Even if it did, it must offer religious exemptions to anybody who requests one.”
“It cannot discriminate among religions and cannot second-guess the sincerity of one’s religious beliefs without an objective basis for doing so,” add the documents prepared by attorneys Scott J. Street, John W. Howard and Michelle Volk.
“It did not have one here. ABC’s actions constitute religious discrimination and violate Plaintiffs’ rights under state law.” General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher also filed a lawsuit against ABC for the same reason.
As of writing, Disney’s stock price is down to $93.67, down 38% over the last six months, and down 45% since this time last year.
What are your thoughts on Disney continuing to deny religious exemptions against the company’s vax mandate?