Seven parents and their minor children have joined a federal discrimination lawsuit alleging Sesame Place costumed performers intentionally snubbed them in favor of guests of other races during visits to the Middletown theme park.
The amended lawsuit was filed Sept. 28 in U.S. Eastern District Court in Philadelphia against the park and its operator SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The original lawsuit was brought in July by a Baltimore Maryland man and his 5-year-old daughter, who allege they were discriminated against during a Father's Day park visit.
Who are the new Sesame Place plaintiffs?
Among the new plaintiffs is Nathan Fleming, a York County father who alleges costumed performers ignored his 5-year-old daughter's efforts to get a high-five during a July 4 park visit, but interacted with an Asian child next to her. Fleming video recorded the incident and posted it on social media.
Read Nathan Fleming's story York father joins chorus of parents who say Sesame Place characters snub Black children
The new plaintiffs include three adults and children who are Hispanic, as well as residents of Philadelphia, New York and Connecticut. All but one of the new plaintiffs alleged the incidents occurred during visits in June or July of this year. All seven claim to have video recordings documenting the alleged snubs.
Attorneys in the case have asked the court to certify the lawsuit as a class action against defendants including SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which own and operate Sesame Place.
Video sets off complaints against Sesame Place
The lawsuit was filed in last July after Brooklyn New York resident Jodi Brown's cellphone video went viral on social media showing a costumed park performer allegedly dismissing her daughter and niece, who are Black, but interacting with guests of other races during a July 16 visit.
Brown, however, is not a plaintiff in the class action suit. Another family with similar claims filed the lawsuit.
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The video sparked an avalanche of criticism against the park and operators over the incident and its handling of Brown's accusations. It also prompted additional people to come forward with video they allege show costumed performers ignoring Black and brown children, but interacting with other guests.
More of the Sesame Place controversyAttorney for Sesame Place mom who filmed viral video claims CEO is snubbing family
Sesame Place responds
Sesame Place has repeatedly apologized to Brown and her family, denied allegations of racism and announced it was undertaking comprehensive initiatives including employee anti-bias training and education and racial equity assessment including a review of policy, processes and practices to identify areas of improvement with equity, diversity and inclusion.
All park employees were to be required to complete a “substantive training and education program” by the end of September. The program is designed to address bias, promote inclusion, prevent discrimination and “ensure guests and employees feel safe and welcome,” the release said.
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This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Sesame Place discrimination case: Seven families join lawsuit