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Family sues Sesame Place, alleging discrimination

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Posted at 7:32 AM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 11:01:43-04

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — 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, showing two other Black girls apparently being snubbed by 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.

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. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

"We were shocked and dismayed that these costume character actors besmirched the great name of the Sesame Street brand an institution that's as American as baseball and apple pie and who has for years battled for inclusively and equity for all people through its decades of children's television programming," Ruff stated.

Representatives for Sesame Place said they are reviewing the complaint.