On Wednesday, a Florida Court revived a complaint filed to the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleging that Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts discriminated against a potential Guest by not allowing exemptions to their face mask mandate.
Aaron Abadi filed the initial complaint under a state civil-rights law, claiming to have a disability that prevented him from wearing a mask or face shield. He planned to visit Walt Disney World in September or October 2021, when face masks were required in all indoor areas and transportation at the Disney Parks.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, Abadi’s initial claim was dismissed because he never actually visited the Walt Disney World Resort, meaning Disney did not deny him services.
Abadi took his complaint to an appeals court, where Judges Joseph Lewis, Ross Bilbrey, and Harvey Jay concluded that a visit to Walt Disney World wasn’t necessary for the discrimination case to move forward. They wrote:
Appellant (Abadi) alleged that he visited appellee (Disney) on a yearly basis before the COVID pandemic; planned to visit appellee with his family in late September or early October 2021; and requested an exemption from appellee’s face-covering policy due to his disability, which was denied by appellee. Because appellant plausibly alleged that he was aware of discriminatory conditions at appellee’s public accommodation and that the denial of his request for a modification deterred him from visiting or patronizing that accommodation, the commission improperly dismissed appellant’s complaint on an invalid ground.
The ruling sends the case back to the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which initially denied Abadi’s disability discrimination complaint. Abadi hasn’t specified what disability prevented him from wearing a face mask or face shield indoors at Walt Disney World.
Face masks are not currently required anywhere at the Walt Disney World Resort. After a Federal Court Judge struck down the nationwide mask mandate on public transportation, Guests were no longer required to wear masks on Disney busses or monorails – the last part of the Resort that needed them.
As COVID-19 is an ongoing pandemic, health and safety requirements are constantly changing at the Disney Parks. Before your visit, check Disney’s website for updated information on mask mandates and other protocols to know before you go.