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Walt Disney World Loses Arbitration with Costumed Employees

Wednesday, May, 6, 2015


An arbitrator in the state of Florida has ruled in favor of employees at a performance at Walt Disney World in Orlando who were fired after refusing to wear costumes that were “sweaty and soiled.”


The performers had been hired to participate in “The Festival of the Lion King” and are part of the Teamsters Local 385 union. They claim that on the night of the performance, the costumes had not been cleaned and were left out in the rain, but producers urged them to wear the costumes anyway for the sake of the show and refused to have them laundered. When the producers refused, the cast balked and the performance was canceled.


The performers performed the next show after clean costumes were provided, but three cast members were subsequently suspended and then fired, despite the fact the agreement with the union specified “All costume pieces shall receive a minimum of 12 hours of drying and sanitation between performances” and “No character performer shall be required to wear any costume piece worn by another character performer.”


The dispute went to an arbitrator who ruled in favor of the cast members, and ordered that they not only be re-hired, but that they receive back pay as well, citing the clear violation of the agreement between Disney and the performers rendering the termination of the employees unjustifiable.


Walt Disney World’s only comment was to acknowledge the decision and state that it will comply with the arbitrator’s ruling.