Sesame Place discrimination lawsuit survives its first legal hurdle. What happened?

A federal judge has determined that there is no proof indicating that a well-liked amusement park in Middletown did not sufficiently employ, educate, and oversee its staff members.

However, Sesame Place may have violated the civil rights of brown and Black children and parents when guests of other races intentionally allegedly snubbed them, favoring performers who were costumed.

Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed some elements of the lawsuit against SeaWorld, its parent company Entertainment & Parks, and others.

She also declined to dismiss two plaintiffs the company desired eliminated.

Last year, in December 2021, eight parents of Hispanic and Black children who visited Sesame Place, a company in the entertainment industry, are suing SeaWorld, seeking damages of more than $50 million for implementing “stringent” policies that screen employees and education training on anti-discrimination.

Lawyers also desire the lawsuit to be officially recognized as a class action, which could expose the company to further legal allegations.

Lawyers representing SeaWorld and the complainants declined to provide a statement regarding Beetlestone’s order that was issued on Monday.

Here is the most recent update regarding the lawsuit:

Park goers head into Sesame Place in Middletown Township on Saturday, July 23, 2022.

Further instances of prejudice at Sesame Place were resolved when a family of Black Muslim individuals initiated a legal case years before the video gained widespread attention.

Beetlestone agreed with SeaWorld that the plaintiffs’ claims of negligence were valid, stating that the show failed to provide adequate supervision and training for its employees.

The motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief was denied. The company contends that it is liable because it violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The court upheld the plaintiffs’ claims under the theory of negligence, also known as “negligence so-called”.

Attorneys argued that the families should be removed from the class action suit against SeaWorld because the conditions and terms of the clause waiver contained in the season passes should be removed as well, especially for families who used season passes instead of one-day tickets, which Beetlestone refused to remove.

SeaWorld’s attorneys argued in their motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the plaintiffs’ civil rights were violated. They also alleged that the plaintiffs failed to show any contractual right to personal interactions with costumed characters. The plaintiffs contended that they were treated differently than other guests in the park who interacted with the costumed characters. The attorneys for SeaWorld argued against these allegations made by the plaintiffs.

According to the directive, “the seller recently sold the final ice cream cone to a Caucasian customer,” wherein an African American customer desired an ice cream cone and waited in queue only to discover that the claimants’ concept of damage would result in “limitless responsibility” for the corporation, SeaWorld also contended in its appeal.

However, Beetlestone dismissed the ice cream comparison.

In the line, only white people were chosen to sell, while the black person was refused to sell to. Despite the fact that there was a full freezer of ice cream, the customer, who was black, stood in line only to find out that the ice cream vendor would not serve them. This situation can be seen as an analogy for the allegations being made here. (As modified)

Park goers head into Sesame Place in Middletown Township on Saturday, July 23, 2022.

What caused the initiation of a federal lawsuit against Sesame Place?

On July 16th, Jodi Brown, a resident of New York City, visited Sesame Place, a theme park, where she interacted with other guests during the races. However, a video of her visit went viral on social media, showing her niece and daughter dressed as the character “Rosita,” while Jodi herself was allegedly snubbing the costumed performer.

The video sparked an avalanche of criticism against the park and accusations of Brown mishandling the incident. It alleged that guests of different races interacted with each other, while brown and black children ignored the performers in the costumed show. Additionally, it prompted more people to come forward with videos alleging similar incidents.

Brown is not a representative of the class in the federal lawsuit in front of Beetlestone.

Quinton Burns and daughter, Kennedi, 5, of Baltimore, stand outside federal court in Philadelphia after their attorneys filed a federal lawsuit on their behalf against Sesame Place.

“Elmo,” “Ernie,” “Cookie Monster,” “Telly Monster,” “Abby Cadabby,” “Rosita,” “Big Bird,” “Grover,” “Baby Bear,” and “Zoey” were recognized, but the legal action does not specify individual workers implicated in the occurrences.

How did Sesame Place react to the dispute?

Sesame Place has announced comprehensive initiatives to address inclusion and diversity, including the improvement of identified areas, the review of practices and processes, and the assessment of racial equity in education and anti-bias employee training. They have also repeatedly apologized to Brown’s family, denied allegations of racism, and undertook comprehensive initiatives to address anti-bias employee training.

As per Sesame Place, last year the park staff successfully finished an extensive training and educational initiative aimed at addressing prejudice, fostering inclusivity, deterring discrimination, and guaranteeing a sense of safety and hospitality for both guests and employees.

Further reporting on Sesame Place indicates that an increasing number of families are participating in the lawsuit against the theme park due to allegations of discrimination. Here is the latest update.