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'Snubbed': Baltimore family sues Sesame Place for $25M alleging discrimination

San Diego Theme Park
Posted at 6:14 AM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 19:30:17-04

BALTIMORE — A video went viral in recent weeks showing Sesame Street characters seemingly ignore little Black children intentionally at Sesame Place.

The children were looking for attention from the employee dressed as Rosita, but instead, they were snubbed.

The mother of one of those girls has been vocal about the incident since it happened.

"Me, my niece and my daughter have all suffered from one embarrassment, discriminatory behavior which we should not have to endure in these days in times,” she said.

MORE: Family says Sesame Place character deliberately ignored Black children

Children snubbed by Sesame Place characters

Now, a Baltimore family is taking legal aim against the amusement park after an incident of the same sorts happened in mid-June.

The Burns family said their Black daughter was also ignored by a character while they were visiting the theme park in Longhorne, Pennsylvania in June.

That's about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia.

They're now filing a $25 million class action lawsuit, claiming a pattern of discrimination by Sesame Place.

Family announces discrimination lawsuit against Sesame Place

The lawsuit out what attorneys call ‘pervasive and appalling’ race discrimination and it stems from those videos surfacing online that have sparked outrage across the nation.

“It's brought him to tears for his 5-year-old daughter who's one of the precious little children I've ever seen, completely snubbed, ignored, disregarded," Attorney Malcolm Ruff said.

Burns said that on Fathers Day, four employees dressed as Sesame Street characters ignored the father and daughter, saying at the same time, those same performers readily engaged with white customers.

“We’re here to announce that we filed a class-action civil rights lawsuit on her behalf on Quinton’s behalf,” Attorney Ruff announced in a press conference.

Attorney talks about Sesame Place lawsuit

Representing the Burns family, Ruff filed the lawsuit, accusing the owners of Sesame Place of violating the Burns’ family and numerous other families rights to make and enforce contracts in an equitable manner.

The suit cites section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

“It shows while we have made much progress, racism is still pervasive and still very much alive and still needs to be combatted on all fronts especially when you're dealing with children,” Ruff said.

Influx of calls complaining about Sesame Place

According to the lawsuit, on June 18, the Burns family purchased two weekend tickets to Sesame Place.

The terms of the contract reserved the Burns family’s privilege to a ‘Meet and Greet’ with the costume characters.

During that time, four performers "intentionally refused to engage with them, ignoring them and all other Black guests in attendance," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit calls the performers actions "an unlawful refusal to perform its duties outlined in its contract with the Burns family."

“If you look at her face after she's turned away by Ernie and by Telly Monster, the look of disappointment could literally bring you to tears,” Ruff said.

That disappointment, he argues, is solely attributed to Sesame Place's owners.

“What is really happening here is a failure of training, supervision, monitoring and a failure of vetting employees to operate within the confines and parameters of the civil rights laws that govern our country,” said Ruff.

Sesame Place, in their response to the lawsuit, told ABC News: "We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns. We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests."

They're now filing a $25 million class action lawsuit, claiming a pattern of discrimination by Sesame Place.

Sesame place issued a statement on the lawsuit saying they will review the complaint. They say they are committed to being an inclusive and equitable entertainment experience for all of its guests.