Going at least as far back as 1946’s Song of the South, race has been a touchy subject for The Walt Disney Company, which has had a mostly progressive track record but also complaints from race-policy watchdogs over the years. In the latest such story, a former temporary Walt Disney World “cast member” (the company’s term for its employees) is seeking damages in a racial discrimination lawsuit, alleging that she was mistreated as a result of her race during her brief tenure in the Mouse House. We look at her lawsuit below.
Spiked Pumps, an Updo, and Chitterlings: Startling Allegations of Racism
Monica Shaw, who is black, claims that supervisors and colleagues discriminated against her during her employment at the Walt Disney World Resort. She says an executive was put off by her appearance, which included specific complaints about her high heels and an “updo” hairstyle. At issue is the “Disney Look,” which is the official code of dress, grooming, and appearance for the company’s onstage employees. The code has been in place for many years and has given rise to the occasional discrimination allegation in the past. Walt Disney World has relaxed its rules in recent years, but Shaw believes she was treated differently than her non-black coworkers.
Shaw says the executive referred to her high heels as “spiked pumps,” but she insists they were consistent with the shoes worn by non-white employees, as well as the rules for shoes in the Disney Look. The executive allegedly complained about her hairstyle too, reportedly a traditional “updo.” The Disney Look stipulates that female cast members’ “hair should be neatly combed and arranged in a classic, easy-to-maintain style. Extreme styles are not permitted.” Perhaps even more shockingly, Shaw’s lawsuit alleges that white coworkers asked her if she eats chitterlings, joked about African bees while she was around them, and asked if her recent absence for an ear infection was due to a roach crawling in her ear. Shaw also claims that Disney gave her a smaller cubicle than her white colleagues and denied her a printer, even though printing documents was part of her job. The former employee reportedly filed her complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), but Walt Disney World told the Orlando Sentinel in February that they had not yet been formally served with a lawsuit.
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Our Orlando Discrimination Attorneys Can Help You Fight for Justice
While awaiting further facts and an outcome in the Walt Disney World case, we here at Bogin, Munns & Munns want all Floridians to know that they are entitled to a workplace free from racial discrimination. If you or a loved one has suffered adverse employment action or a hostile work environment based on your race (or on any other impermissible discriminatory basis), the Orlando discrimination attorneys at Bogin, Munns & Munns can help. We are dedicated to fighting for justice and holding discriminatory parties accountable. Click here to learn more about your rights under Florida and federal law.
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