Universal Settles Lawsuit Regarding “Racist Hate Symbol” Shown in Park

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Guests entering Universal Studios Orlando Florida

Credit: Universal

In the past few months alone, we have seen multiple controversies emerge concerning conduct between theme park employees and Guests.

This is why both Disney and Universal ensure that their Cast Members and Team Members are very well-trained to represent their respective theme parks in the best light possible. At times, however, someone’s actions could sway from the norm and give the company a much larger issue.

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Credit: Universal

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Universal Orlando Resort is no stranger to lawsuits, but one came to light recently that put it directly under the microscope.  Two separate families sued the theme park after the Despicable Me character, Gru, conducted separate meet and greets in which the character displayed a “racist hate symbol” with his hands while posing with biracial children. The report states the following:

The civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of two girls, who were 5 and 6 years old at the time of the photos, in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Orange County on June 23. The complaint lists Universal Orlando as the defendant. The “OK” hand gesture has been defined as a sign used to indicate “hate” by the American Anti-Defamation League. The lawsuit listed several high-profile hate crimes during which the suspects displaced the hand gesture, including the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Credit: USA Today

Related: Business Confirms It Will Be Closing Disney Location Next Year

Tiffiney and Richard Zinger, along with Geisy Moreno and Joel Rodriguez, claim that their children each faced racial discrimination from workers depicting the character in February and March 2019.

The first instance took place at Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort when Gru used the “OK” hate symbol in a photo with the child, according to the family who shared the photo online.

It was then said that the young girl brought the photo to school to share with the class but was not allowed to due to the hate symbol being displayed through Gru’s hand gesture.

Universal Orlando welcom sign
Credit: ITM

The second family did not share as many details as to what happened but simply stated that the hand gesture was used. Both families ended up suing for $30,000 due to “mental anguish, loss of dignity, humiliation, embarrassment and other emotional distress” caused to the young girls due to the incident.

The families later moved the lawsuit to U.S. District Court, increasing their claims to over $75,000.

Hogsmeade Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Credit: Universal Orlando

The lawsuit was settled on September 12, but the settlement agreements are strictly confidential.

Spokesman Tom Schroder previously declined to comment on the lawsuit but told USA Today in October 2019 that the employee dressed as Gru in the Zingers’ photo had been fired and Universal was in contact with the family.

This settlement comes in the midst of a massive lawsuit leveled against Sesame Place in Pennsylvania in which a viral video showed what appeared to be a racist encounter with a park mascot and two children.

What do you think about this lawsuit?

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