A Baltimore family is suing a Sesame Street-themed amusement park for $25 million over claims of racial discrimination, alleging multiple costumed characters ignored a 5-year-old Black girl during a meet-and-greet event last month.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of a video, shared widely on social media, showingby a costumed employee during a parade at the park in Langhorne, outside Philadelphia. Sesame Place apologized in a statement and promised more training for its employees after the video went viral earlier this month. That family is not involved in this lawsuit.
The suit, which seeks class action status, was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia against SeaWorld Parks, the owner of the Sesame Place, for “pervasive and appalling race discrimination.”
The lawsuit alleges four employees dressed as Sesame Street characters ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns and other Black guests during the meet-and-greet on June 18. The lawsuit says “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”
During a press conference held Wednesday, one of the family’s attorneys, Malcolm Ruff, called for transparency from SeaWorld and for the company to compensate the Burns family.
“She was ignored amongst a sea of other young white children who were able to interact, give hugs, high fives,” Ruff said of Kennedi Burns, CBS Philly reports.
“Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of 5. This is unacceptable and we will not stand by and let this continue,” Ruff added.
Lawyers for the Burns family are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25 million, CBS Philly reports. They are also asking other families who may have also experienced bias to come forward.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.