A former Disney Cast Member who was terminated last year has filed a lawsuit against Disney alleging the company failed to meet her legally required disability accommodation needs under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Morgan Schoepfer was a Cast Member at the World of Disney Store in Disney Springs until last November, when she was terminated from the company. She is suing Disney for their failure to accommodate her disabilities and illnesses under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Florida Politics. The ADA requires “reasonable accommodations” to be made which will still allow the employee to do the essential tasks of their job. All businesses with employees of 15 or more are required to abide by the ADA in the United States.
“Working at Disney was a dream for Plaintiff until she found herself in the most hostile work environment she had ever experienced,” according to the suit filed last week in federal court. She argues that Disney retaliated against her for pushing to get her accommodations and then speaking out publicly when her needs weren’t met. Her hours were cut severely before Disney terminated her position on November 30.
Schoepfer has been diagnosed with a slew of illnesses and disabilities including cerebral palsy, Crohn’s disease, Gastroparesis and Colonic Dysmotility, which her suit described as causing paralyses of the large intestine, causing her to use the bathroom often.
As a result, she requested several accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, including the ability to sit in a chair while working and rest every half hour, which is possible while working the cash register, regular and easy access to the bathrooms, not lifting anything above 10lb because cerebral palsy affects her balance, and not handling open food or cleaning the bathrooms.
Yet Disney failed to provide these accommodations and managers were dismissive regarding her requests and complaints, according to the suit. She was instead sent to work the floor, preventing her from resting, or asked to work the stock room lifting heavy boxes. Schoepfer landed in the hospital in September following a period of standing too long, causing her to collapse and experience a seizure. She also alleges multiple incidents where she soiled herself due to an inability to access the restrooms.
Complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations in October, and she received a right-to-sue letter in December. But Disney still withheld her accommodations and pressured her to quit before terminating her outright.
“Being chronically ill doesn’t get to hold you back. You fight for answers, you adapt, you grow, you fight, and you keep going,” she wrote about living with chronic illnesses. “If you feel like something is wrong, speak up. And if no one’s listening, shout until someone does.
“We intend to prove that Disney subjected Ms. Schoepfer to an abusive environment because of her disabilities,” her attorney, Brett Kaplan, told Florida Politics in a statement. “We commend Ms. Schoepfer — a disability advocate in her own right — for coming forward and sharing her experience. We look forward to presenting our client’s claims in court, and ultimately, holding the Defendant accountable.”
Disney representatives did not respond to Florida Politics for comment. But a guest experience manager told her during her tenure “Inclusiveness is a public relations thing … it’s not what you think,” according to the lawsuit.