Lawsuit Filed Against Sesame Place Philadelphia for Racial Discrimination

Following the viral video of an interaction a Black family said was racist towards two children, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against SeaWorld parks and Entertainment in Philadelphia.

And it’s not by the family of the two girls.

The parent company for Sesame Place Philadelphia is accused of racial discriminating against the family of Quinton Burns. The suit, which seeks $25 million in damages, says multiple performers dressed as Sesame Street characters “ignored them and all other Black guests in attendance.”

A Baltimore-based law firm filed the suit on behalf of a family other than the once seen in the nine-second video. That clip was posted on July 16 and appeared to show Sesame Street character Rosita wave “no” to two Black girls along the parade route who had their arms outstretched for a hug.

One of the attorneys for the Maryland family that filed the lawsuit, Malcolm Ruff, said the Burns family visited Sesame Place on June 18 and had the same type of snub happen to them.

The firm released a video of the alleged incident.

The suit claims the park engages in racist behavior against children, discriminating against those who purchase tickets for the attraction. It says Burns and others were systematically ignored while “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with similarly situated White customers.”

Specifically, it accuses Sesame Place of violating Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which protects from racial discrimination in creating and honoring contracts. By purchasing tickets, the lawsuit says the family entered a contract with the facility.

The family-friendly theme park initially apologized for the July incident and said it was a “misunderstanding.” Parent company Sesame Workshop, a non-profit,” then announced that Sesame Place will conduct “bias training” for interactions with families and guests.

Just after this statement was made, Sesame Place Philadelphia issued another statement. The park said, “We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday.” The statement went on, saying “we know that it’s not OK.”

The park responded to the suit and said it anticipates addressing the claims “through the established legal process.” Sesame Place also reiterated its commitment to be an “inclusive, equitable, and entertaining” facility for all guests.