The plaintiffs – Barbara Andreas, Stephen Cribb and Adam Pajer – accused Disney of violating their religious liberty protections. They were terminated for declining to be injected with the COVID-19 vaccines, even though they filed exemption forms clearly stating that "taking these injections would violate their deeply-held convictions."
The three plaintiffs, who hailed from Florida, indicated in their June 29 lawsuit that they first reported Disney to the office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody prior to their termination. They accused the media conglomerate of violating an edict by Gov. Ron DeSantis that banned employers from imposing vaccine mandates on their workers. Andreas, Cribb and Pajer subsequently pointed out that Disney fired them in retaliation to their complaints.
"[While] Disney has brought wonder and magic into the lives and homes of millions, [it] had cast itself as the villain," the lawsuit stated, adding that "a shadow has come over Disney" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the three, Disney "announced to its entire U.S. cast a 'vaccinate or terminate' policy" on July 30, 2021. Employees were given a deadline of Sept. 30, 2021, to present proof of full vaccination – two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna or one dose of the Janssen vaccine – as a "condition of continued employment."
The vaccine mandate initially applied to non-union employees as unionized Disney workers were able to exempt themselves through collective bargaining agreements. Disney later expanded this mandate to encompass all employees after negotiation with multiple staff unions.
The June 29 lawsuit also indicated "safety protocols for COVID-19" Disney put in place in its parks. The media giant closed its amusement parks in California and Florida on March 15, 2020 and reopened four months later. These precautions involved social distancing for cast members and guests, double masking and the use of face shields and goggles depending on "proximity to guests."
Andreas, Cribb and Pajer are seeking damages for lost wages, employee benefits and lawyer fees – alongside a request for a jury trial.
Earlier, the three plaintiffs announced their intent to sue Disney during a press conference in Kissimmee, Florida. They were accompanied by longtime Disney employee Nick Caturano and their respective attorneys. (Related: Cast members to sue Disney for its COVID-19 "vaccinate or terminate" mandate.)
"Our lawsuit against these discriminatory practices will bring to light that the 'happiest place on earth' has normalized blatant discrimination, terrorized families, threatened livelihoods and coerced permanent, medical decisions – injections that cannot be 'taken off' at the end of a work day like a costume or pair of shoes," Caturano said during the press conference.
The plaintiffs asserted during the press conference that liberty is fragile and must be protected in the instance when mass fear is bred, adding: "When human life is less important than your job, you know that society has a problem."
Caturano, who has been with the media giant for almost two decades, penned an open letter questioning Disney's decision to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.
"When the vaccines were announced, I was skeptical about taking something that had no long-term data and was amazed at how quickly everyone claimed it was 'safe and effective.' My position – let's wait and see how this plays out – seemed a reasonable position to take. I also respected and understood why many of my neighbors, friends and family members decided to get vaccinated," he wrote.
"We were all hopeful for anything that would work. But unfortunately, it's evident that this vaccine and the people in charge of protecting Americans' health and freedom have failed miserably," Caturano concluded his letter.
Watch Nick Caturano below discussing his fight against Disney's vaccine mandates on "Lawfare with Tom Renz."
This video is from the BrighteonTV channel on Brighteon.com.