When Walt Disney World Resort reopened after its months-long pandemic closure, there were strict mask policies in place. Guests were required to wear face coverings at all times. Those requirements remained in place even after a vaccine came out. Then, as more people became vaccinated, those rules changed. First, vaccinated Guests did not have to wear masks outdoors, then that expanded to all Guests. However, masks were still required indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Nearly two years later, all mask requirements have ended at The Most Magical Place on Earth.
When they were first implemented, the mask regulations at Walt Disney World caused a lot of outrage, as well as confusion amongst Guests. Some claimed that medical issues prevented them from wearing a face covering, but Disney made no exceptions to its rule. That no-exception policy led one man to file a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company.
Aaron Abadi claimed that he visited Walt Disney World Resort every year before the pandemic. When he tried to plan another Disney vacation during the pandemic, he reached out to Disney. Abadi claims that he told Disney that he had a diagnosed medical condition that prevented him from wearing a face covering. He claims that Disney refused to issue him a mask exemption for a medical condition, which was a form of discrimination.
Originally, the Florida Commission on Human Relations dismissed the lawsuit. In its decision to release, the Commission said that the case was being dismissed because Abadi could not prove how he was discriminated against due to the fact that he didn’t end up visiting Walt Disney World. However, an appeals court recently reversed that decision.
Per a report from The Orlando Sentinel:
But the appeals court said such a visit was not necessary to move forward with the case.
“Appellant (Abadi) alleged that he visited appellee (Disney) on a yearly basis before the COVID pandemic; planned to visit appellee with his family in late September or early October 2021; and requested an exemption from appellee’s face-covering policy due to his disability, which was denied by appellee,” said the ruling by Judges Joseph Lewis, Ross Bilbrey and Harvey Jay.
“Because appellant plausibly alleged that he was aware of discriminatory conditions at appellee’s public accommodation and that the denial of his request for a modification deterred him from visiting or patronizing that accommodation, the commission improperly dismissed appellant’s complaint on an invalid ground.”
It is unknown what kind of disability Mr. Abadi claimed that he had as he tried to receive his medical exemption.