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Does Disney Discriminate?


Like nearly all mega employers, such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's, Disney World has been the subject of many discrimination lawsuits. Recently, Disney has been faced with several, very similar, discrimination claims filed by its security employees. While none have been successful so far, the fact that they keep coming may signal that there is something going on at Disney World that we don't yet know about.

Case 1: Allegation of Discriminatory Denials of Promotion

One case that is still pending was filed by a Haitian woman employed as a Disney security guard, who alleged that she applied for a promotion to Emergency Coordinator. But the position was given to a less qualified Caucasian man who had less education and experience than she had.

Case 2: Allegation of Discriminatory Discipline and Termination

Another pending case involves a plain-clothes security employee who alleges he was fired two years ago for using a cell phone on-the-job. He claims that Disney did not apply its rules consistently among employees. While he was terminated for using his phone to check on the welfare of his sick child, other Caucasian employees who used their phones were never disciplined, let alone terminated.

Case 3: Allegation of a Practice of Racial Hostility at Disney

There have also been allegations that security employees were told to watch Arabic patrons in the park more closely, and to subject them to a more thorough search when they entered the park. It is also alleged that security employees were instructed to watch black patrons more carefully, as they were known to commit more retail thefts. This type of racial profiling or stereotyping is commonly at the heart of discrimination.

What Is Race Discrimination?

Race discrimination happens when an employee or applicant is treated unfavorably because of their race or personal characteristics associated with their race. It also includes unfavorable treatment based on the fact that the worker is either married to a minority or regularly associates with minorities, even they you are not a minority. It no longer matters that the person who is discriminating against you is of the same ethnicity, as long as their conduct is based on the fact that you are of a particular race.

What Does Federal Law Prohibit in the Workplace?

There are federal anti-discrimination statutes that make employment discrimination, based on race, gender and many other protected characteristics, unlawful. These laws forbid employers from hiring terminating, promoting, assigning work, giving raises, training, downsizing, providing fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment, because of someone's race.

Discriminatory Harassment Is Also Unlawful

Additionally, it is unlawful for employers, supervisors, and/or co-workers, to harass an employee because of his or her protected characteristic, such as race. Harassment in the workplace can be verbal or nonverbal, whether that means using racial slurs, making other derogatory remarks about race, or displaying racially offensive symbols. In order for the harassment to be actionable, however, it must be so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment. This means that claims involving isolated "offhand comments" or teasing will most likely be inadequate to support claims of a hostile work environment.

If you have been affected by workplace discrimination or harassment, the Birmingham employment attorneys at Michel | King Michel & Kingare available to discuss your case in an initial case review. Start your case by contacting a member of the legal team online or by phone at (205) 265-1880.

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