- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Three former Disney World employees are suing the company for religious discrimination after allegedly being terminated for refusing to comply with its Covid-19 policies.
According to the suit, filed June 30 in a Florida court, Barbara Andreas, Stephen J. Cribb and Adam Pajer sought and were denied religious exemption from wearing masks and getting the vaccine.
“When Plaintiffs each objected respectfully and consistently to Disney’s unlawful discrimination against them, Disney failed to remediate its actions contrary to law,” the complaint states. “Instead, Disney suspended and terminated Plaintiffs for ‘Speaking Up’ in accordance with law and Disney’s own company policy.”
On July 30, 2021 – about a year after Walt Disney World Orlando reopened amid record cases in the state – Disney announced that all U.S. employees were required to become fully vaccinated. On-site workers had 60 days to comply with what the suit calls a “vaccinate or terminate” policy.
However, in late Nov. 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blocked companies from enforcing vaccine mandates, prompting Disney to require unvaccinated on-site workers to mask and maintain social distance.
The plaintiffs claim that Disney’s post-mandate policy was “a new discriminatory scheme that singled out” unimmunized employees and “irrationally feared” them as posing a danger to others.
Plaintiff Barbara Andreas worked for the company for 17 years before she was allegedly terminated in March 2022. In the filing, she asserted that wearing a mask represented “an affront” to her Christian beliefs, as did “participating in a medical experiment, such as COVID testing or vaccines.”
Andreas claims that after several months, HR denied her religious exemption request and threatened to fire her if she would not comply with the masking policy. On March 4, she says she was terminated and escorted out of the ESPN Wide World of Sports location where she worked as a Guest Experience Manager.
Cribb, who was also a Guest Experience Manager, objected to the vaccine on anti-abortion grounds, claiming that “the Jansen vaccine as well [as] the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine have all used cells from a terminated fetus.”
Following his Aug. 20 exemption request, he said he was “segregated” from vaccinated employees and forced to wear a mask at a Disney Mardi Gras event attended by “hundreds” of unmasked people. The suit alleges that Disney failed to communicate with Cribb in the eight months between his exemption request and his termination on April 25, 2022.
Pajer, who had worked as a Cast Member since 2015, said the exemption request he filed on Oct. 15, 2021 was “never processed to conclusion.” He said that after the vaccine mandate was lifted, his managers “treated him as if he were leprous” and “violated his civil rights.” Pajer was allegedly fired on June 28, two days before the suit was filed.
All three employees are suing for an unspecified amount to compensate for lost wages, lost benefits, attorney fees and costs among any other damages deemed by the court.
Read the full complaint here.