Disney sued by former employees for vaccine, mask requirements on grounds of religious discrimination

The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiary, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, are being sued by three former employees for religious discrimination after allegedly being fired for refusing to wear masks and declining the required COVID-19 vaccine based on their Constitutionally protected religions.

Barbara Andreas, Stephen Cribb, and Adam Pajer claim in a lawsuit filed on June 30 that Disney “targeted” employees who opted to pass on the jab, The Hill reported. The vaccine, they said, would violate their “deeply held convictions.”

Disney made it known in July 2021 that employees would be required to show proof of their vaccination status by the end of September, and as BizPac Review reported, by October, it was distributing stickers to staff members working on film and television productions so they could be easily distinguished from the un-stuck.

According to the lawsuit, however, Disney’s deadline only applied to nonunion employees, and many of the unions to which Disney cast members belong had negotiated an extension.

In November, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called for Disney World to hire back any fired employees after signing into law a bill that protected his state’s workers from authoritarian vaccine mandates.

Disney was forced to pause the enforcement of its controversial policy while it assessed the new state laws, BizPac Review reported at the time.

In an internal memo to Disney cast members, the company stated, “Due to the passage this week of a new Florida law on employer vaccine mandates, and the federal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard mandating the vaccine being stayed, we must pause the enforcement of our policy for Florida based Cast Members and employees.”

Still, the company doubled down on its pro vaccine stance.

In a statement to Fox 35, a Disney spokesperson said, “We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we’ve continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our cast members and guest, and at this point, more than 90% of active Florida-based cast members have already verified that they are fully vaccinated. We will address legal developments as appropriate.”

In a statement of his own, Governor DeSantis said, “Nobody should lose his or her job over these mandates. Disney is a major employer in Florida, and we are proud that the ‘happiest place on Earth’ is here in our state.”

“We hope Disney and any other company that has suspended or terminated workers due to vaccine mandates will consider rehiring them.”

It was then, the lawsuit claims, that Disney implemented “augmented protocols” for its unvaxxed employees that “consisted of harsh isolation and restrictions, causing serious breathing problems for Plaintiffs and making it nearly impossible to find a compliant manner and location in which to eat or drink while on shift.”

Andreas, Cribb, and Pajer lost their jobs in March, April, and June of this year, respectively.

“They are requesting Disney be required to reinstate their employment, stop enforcement of the augmented protocols and pay each of them for lost wages, any lost benefits, attorney fees and any additional relief that a court considers justified,” The Hill states.

Neither Disney World nor Disney Parks, Experiences and Products immediately returned The Hill’s requests for comments.


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