When Walt Disney World Resort reopened in July 2020 after a months-long closure because of the pandemic, there were many massive changes that Guests and Cast Members had to get used to. One of the biggest changes was that face masks were required to be worn at all times, in all locations, unless actively eating or drinking. Even then, you could only eat and drink in designated locations. In addition to mandatory face coverings, Guests also had to remain at a socially safe distance from others, character interactions were non-existent, and many restaurants were closed.
After a while, scientists developed a vaccine to help fight COVID, and, while Guests were not required to be vaccinated at Disney’s U.S. theme parks, the same could not be said for Cast Members. The Walt Disney Company began requiring all employees to be vaccinated — whether you worked in the Parks, at the Studio Lot in Burbank, California, or on sets for Disney’s multiple films and television shows. The requirement caused a lot of consternation amongst those who felt it was their right to refuse vaccination.
Disney has faced several lawsuits in regard to its vaccine mandate, and the most recent one comes from several former Cast Members who used to work at its theme parks. According to The Epoch Times, the lawsuit was launched against Disney by Adam Pajer, Barabara Andreas, and Stephen Cribb — all longtime Disney employees. Pajer had worked for Disney for 7 years, Andreas for 21 years, and Cribb for 11 years. Cribb stated that he had even received the Disney Legacy Award — the highest honor a Cast Member can receive. All asked to be exempt from getting the vaccine because of religious reasons.
According to The Epoch Times:
Pajer said he believed he had a religious obligation not to harm his body and that the vaccine was harmful; Andreas objected to covering her face and the contamination of her blood by vaccine ingredients for religious reasons; and Cribb objected because he believed the Jansen, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines were made using cells from aborted babies.
But instead of accepting these exemption requests, Disney pushed back. All three found the company was slow to respond to their requests, leaving them wondering about the position of their jobs…
When Disney finally responded, the employees faced interrogative interviews.
“[A Disney employee] proposed hypothetical questions to Ms Andreas, such as whether she would consent to a vaccine that did not contain aborted fetal cells. Ms Andreas was very uncomfortable about such an inappropriate line of questioning regarding her sincere religious beliefs,” the lawsuit reads.
Cribb said management asked him to abandon his religious convictions on the vaccine because the FDA approved it.
Pajer said managers yelled at him and lit a written statement about the discrimination he faced while he was still holding it.
Eventually, Disney denied religious exemptions to all three employees. It also refused to speak with their lawyers.
The three litigants also claim that Disney did not provide Cast Members with an area where they could remove their masks and did nothing when the Cast Members felt like they were being bullied. They also all claim that Disney acted in a retaliatory manner when they filed religious discrimination complaints against the company. In the lawsuit, they are asking to have their employment reinstated, for lost wages, lost benefits, attorney’s fees, and additional compensation.
While Disney originally required all Cast Members working at its Walt Disney World Resort to get vaccines, it was forced to put that requirement on pause when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed a bill limiting a company’s power when it comes to vaccinations.