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Disneyland Character Refused to Hug Black Kids, Lawsuit Claims

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Disneyland is "the happiest place on earth," unless you are one of the black kids who were allegedly rejected by the White Rabbit last August.

Jason and Annelia Black, who are African American, say they took their sons to Disneyland last summer. When they saw an actor dressed as the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland," Jason Jr. and his brother Elijah both wanted to take a photo with the character.

They got their photo, but the actor refused to hug the boys or shake their hands, their parents claim. However, when a white family showed up, the rabbit's affectionate demeanor returned. The Blacks filed a complaint.

In response, Disneyland offered to give the family VIP passes, but they declined, reports Fox News. Then Disney offered an apology letter and a check for $500; in exchange, they wanted the Blacks to sign a confidentiality agreement.

But this isn't about money for the Blacks. It's about fairness.

The parents want Disney to make a public apology and to fire the employee who was dressed as the White Rabbit that day. They feel his actions were racist and that he refused to hug their children because they were black, reports Los Angeles' KCBS-TV.

With the help of a lawyer they've filed a lawsuit to that effect. But can they win?

It will depend on what they can prove. Legally speaking, the Constitution, as well as federal and state laws, generally prohibit discrimination based on race.

Government entities can never discriminate based on race. Certain settings must also be free from racist discrimination, such as housing, employment, voting, transportation, and education.

The same goes for private businesses that are open to the general public, such as hotels, retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, and amusement parks. Under the law, they're known as public accomodations.

Disneyland falls squarely within that definition, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. While this isn't a case of disability, the definition still applies when it comes to alleged race discrimination.

Whoever was dressed in that White Rabbit costume was working on behalf of Disney. If a court rules his actions were discriminatory, then Disney may have to pay the price as his employer.

Of course, the family will have to prove the actions were really discrimination and not based on some other factor. That is, unless Disney chooses to settle, which has happened in all but a handful of Disney injury lawsuits in recent years.

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