Sesame Place facing $25 million racial discrimination civil lawsuit

Lawsuit alleges Black man and five-year-old daughter were shunned by costumed characters.

Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. (Google Maps)

Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. (Google Maps)

Sesame Place is being sued for discrimination for another allegation involving costumed employees not interacting with Black attendees.

The lawsuit alleges Quinton Burns and his five-year-old daughter, Kennedi, traveled from Baltimore, Maryland to Sesame Place to celebrate Father’s Day. Burns and his daughter say they were ignored by costumed characters during “Meet and Greet” events along with other Black guests. However, the characters allegedly interacted with white guests.

Maryland-based attorney Billy Murphy says the multiple allegations against the theme park suggests a deeper issue.

“When you get one example, it’s impossible to tell whether that reflects the culture of the corporation,” Murphy said. “But the examples keep mounting, and now it looks like it may be part of the culture of the corporation. That takes away whether or not these were mischaracterized as racial events because if there are enough of them, that’s no longer a defense.”

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Murphy says a pattern of these incidents continues emerging and wouldn’t be surprised if more allegations come forward.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if ex-employees of the company start coming forward and say, ‘Hey, yeah, we were racist,’” Murphy said. ‘” That’s one of the reasons I left the company because I couldn’t tolerate the racism.’”

Earlier this month, multiple allegations of racial discrimination were mounted on Sesame Place. A video posted on Instagram shows the Rosita character refusing to interact with two Black children. The post’s description says the character hugged a white child just before walking past the Black children. Multiple videos depicting similar incidents involving Rosita and other Sesame Street characters have also been posted online.

According to 6abc, Cathy Valeriano, the president and general manager of Sesame Place, said the park has been looking at its internal practices, both immediate and long term.

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“We are heartbroken as an organization that these girls experienced this and that’s on us,” she said.

Valeriano said the performer in the Rosita costume has not worked since July 16.

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