A lawsuit has been filed against Disney Parks by a former performer in Festival of The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at The Walt Disney World Resort.
On July 9th Krista Crowder filed a lawsuit in Orange County Circuit Court against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Disney Worldwide Services. The suit alleges that the company discriminated against Crowder as both a women and a mother and they unlawfully fired her after taking time off when she was pregnant with twins.
In August of 2011 Crowder began working for Disney Parks as a dancer and by January of 2013 she had been promoted to an equity performer. According to the lawsuit, she then began working as a harness and flight performer in May 2013 in the “Festival of The Lion King.”
In November of 2016, Crowder had to take a leave from work due to pregnancy. She was not cleared to workout until September of 2016. The month before she was able to return, August 2016, she received a letter from Disney Parks terminating her employment.
“They were like, ‘Disregard it. It’s, it’s something that’s automatically sent out after you haven’t been in show in a while,'” Crowder said.
In October of 2016, when asking if the letter she had received was a mistake, Crowder’s former stage manager told her that she would need to audition again. However, that audition requirement was in violation of Disney Parks policy says the suit. The only requirement should have been a costume fitting and rehearsal.
“They called me and said, ‘We need you to come in and audition,’ and that is not the protocol,” Crowder said.
Crowder states that she auditioned anyway. Later she was called by a Disney manager and told she was being dropped because the stage “no longer needed (her).” She was told the decision had been made since she had been out 11 months.
According to Crowder’s attorney, she was off for close to a year because for seven months she was pregnant and the following two months she was medically not allowed to perform her job. The last two months of her leave, Crowder was retraining to return to work.
Crowder received another termination letter in November 2016, and Disney Parks sent a letter with an official termination date of Sept. 2, 2017.
To her knowledge, Crowder said that Disney never allowed any mother to perform her position with the Animal Kingdom show.
In the suit, it is alleged that Crowder’s civil rights were disregarded by Disney and that her status as a mother was a contributing factor to her being let go.
Disney said the following in response to the lawsuit: “We have a longstanding policy against workplace discrimination and we will respond to the allegations, as appropriate, in court.”
“There was no thought in my mind that I would not be able to return,” Crowder said. “I would like it to become a place for women to be able to leave, have their babies, recover and get themselves back in shape and have their job without it being this crazy fight.”
Photo Credit: Disney
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