Walt Disney World faces religious discrimination lawsuit over COVID-19 rules


On June 30, former Walt Disney World employees Barbara Andreas, Stephen Cribb and Adam Pajer sued the park for violating their religious beliefs. They say they were unlawfully fired because of their denominational concerns about pandemic-related safety protocols, according to The Associated Press.

The three employees were fired earlier this year after refusing to wear masks and social distance when not vaccinated, according to the lawsuit. They had each worked at the park for at least seven years.

In his request for religious exemption from Disney policies, Andreas referenced a belief that many Americans have cited to explain their resistance to COVID-19 vaccines. She said “participating in a medical experiment, such as COVID testing or vaccines” involving aborted fetal cells would be an “affront” to her Christian beliefs, according to the lawsuit.

Although cells from aborted fetuses were used in the development of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the injections of COVID-19 “do not contain fetal cells”, as The Associated Press Previously reported. Despite this fact, many religious objectors have raised concerns about abortion when explaining their resistance to vaccination.

Cribb and Pajer also cited Christian beliefs and biblical texts in an attempt to circumvent Walt Disney World policies, the AP reported.

The article pointed out that Florida had adopted what the state called, “the strongest pro-freedom, anti-mandate action taken by any state in the nation” in November, which disrupted Disney’s vaccine policy. The law prohibited private employers from implementing vaccination mandates and stated that employees could apply for denominational and other exemptions and “choose whether to opt for periodic testing or PPE.”

In response to the new law, Walt Disney World removed its vaccine mandate, although Disney World website always encourages people to get vaccinated. The company continued to require unvaccinated people to wear face masks and social distance.

After submitting a request for a religious exemption from the masking rules, Andreas received a letter from Disney on Dec. 29 denying his request, according to the PA. “After careful consideration of the information you have provided, we are unable to conclude that you are prevented from wearing a face covering by reason of any sincere religious belief, practice or observance,” did he declare.

“The lawsuit claims Disney’s ‘augmented protocols’ that were imposed on unvaccinated employees consisted of ‘severe isolation and restrictions’ that caused ‘serious breathing’ and made it ‘almost impossible to find a compliant way and place to eat or drink while on duty,” reported the Associated Press.

Andreas, Cribb and Pajer are seeking monetary compensation for “lost wages, benefits and attorney fees,” the article states.


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