Can You Sue Elmo for Racial Discrimination?

Can You Sue Elmo for Racial Discrimination?

The Baltimore family is suing a $22.5 million lawsuit against Sesame Place theme park located in Pennsylvania because of “pervasive and egregious racial discrimination.” The lawsuit stems from a meeting with the characters in which Sesame Street characters allegedly snubbed their children.

The suit stems from the virality of an Rosita character walking past two Black girls, and refusing to give them high-fives to white kids. The plaintiff wasn’t on the scene in this clip.

What is discrimination under the Civil Rights Act?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 safeguards certain groups of individuals from discrimination in the field of education or employment, housing as well as public accommodation. The law prohibits discrimination or unfair treatment due to your:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Origin of the nation
  • Religion
  • Sex

In this instance, the suit claims that racial discrimination was triggered because of the unjust behavior that the Sesame Street characters from the Sesame Place theme park. The plaintiff claims that during an event of meet and greet, the Sesame Street characters Elmo, Ernie, Telly Monster and Abby Cadabby ignored their child.

The Reasons Sesame Place Being Sued?

Sesame Place is a private business that is open to the public. In accordance with federal law, every business, private or otherwise which are open to public or providing services to the public can’t discriminate against certain classes. It means Sesame Place could not refuse admission to a person due to their race.

If, however, the park has denied entry to the exact same individual because of a different reason (i.e. drunk or having a firearm) however, they were a group participant. In this case, the reason for denial does not relate to the race of the patron which is why it’s does not constitute discrimination.

What does the lawsuit say?

If the family was purchasing their tickets, the ticket price was an opportunity to meet Sesame Street characters. This ticket was a contract between the family as well as Sesame Place. The lawsuit asserts that Sesame Place gave disparate treatment to Black ticket holders instead of white ticket buyers. According to the federal law, everyone are entitled to the benefits of contracts equally. So, it is not possible for a company to discriminate against one type of person over another when negotiating the terms of a contract.

As an example, a film ticket-selling theater that is open to the public however allowing access to the theater’s early entrance only to ticket holders of white color and the rest of us. Black ticket holders, would be in violation of the federal law.

What will a court decide?

The court must decide whether Sesame Place engaged in racial discrimination. Sesame Place must not discriminate by offering public facilities or favouring one ticket holder over one another due to race. What is your opinion on whether attention from the attention of a Muppet during a parade open to the public? Does a person who has a ticket for a meeting and greet guarantee of private interaction? Was it true that Sesame Place characters indeed favor white children more than Black children?

Sesame Place could say that being ignored by characters, though it is unpleasant (especially when it is a young child) but it isn’t an issue like being segregated from school or not having access to the possibility of employment. But, many Black families have been sharing their video and accounts of their kids being ignored or not being treated with respect in the presence of Sesame Street characters. The Baltimore plaintiffs have asked for an action class to collect allegations from families across the country.

If the plaintiffs prove that there is a widespread discrimination actions or that Sesame Place favored white ticket holders over Black ticket holders, Sesame Place could be accountable.

What damages can an Court award?

The suit is seeking the sum of $25 million for compensation and punitive damages. Compensation damages compensate a person to compensate for the damage. As an example, in the event of the case of racial discrimination where a business pays its employees lower wages, the court can require monetary compensation so that both employees are the same. Courts award punitive damages for those who are guilty and to deter others from the practice of discrimination based on race.

They also demand an the end of discrimination and demand Sesame Place to provide better job screening and diversity education for its employees.

What is Sesame Place Saying?

Sesame Place denies the accusations and apologizes publicly to parents who believe their children were left out. The company also clarified that costumed characters make it hard to view children. They also explained that the character’s reaction to a negative request could relate to the other customers’ needs, and not necessarily to the child.

Even if the lawsuit proves successful, the attention from the media could be damaging for their brand which encourages inclusiveness and self-esteem in children.

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