Sesame Place Facing $25 Million Class Action Suit Over Racism Accusations

Spencer Platt; Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Spencer Platt; Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Sesame Place has been hit with a $25 million racial discrimination lawsuit after a costumed employee was seen on video appearing to snub black children.

A family from Baltimore, Maryland, has filed a $25 million lawsuit over alleged racial discrimination by Sesame Place Philadelphia, according to a report by Local10.com.

The lawsuit claims that Quinton Burns, his 5-year-old daughter, as well as “all other Black guests in attendance” were discriminated against while visiting the theme park on Father’s Day, June 18.

The firm is also filing a class action suit, claiming the theme park has shown a pattern of racial discrimination.

The lawsuit comes after a separate incident was caught on video, in which a Sesame Place employee clad in a Rosita costume appears to snub black children after giving high-fives to white children.

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“We were shocked and dismayed that these costume character actors besmirched the great name of the Sesame Street brand, an institution that’s as American as baseball and apple pie and who has for years battled for inclusively and equity for all people,” attorney Malcolm Ruff said.

Sesame Place Philadelphia initially responded by releasing a statement insisting that “the costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests,” adding that the employee dressed as Rosita, “did not intentionally ignore the girls.”

“Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,” the statement added. “That is what Sesame Place is about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.”

But following a wave of criticism over the viral video and the initial statement, Sesame Place Philadelphia reportedly released a follow-up statement saying that the incident was “not okay.”

“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience,” the statement read. “We know that it’s not okay. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize, and deliver an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience to our guests.”

Additional footage posted to social media appears to show other costumed employees behaving in a questionable manner in the presence of black children.

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You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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