Disney Sued After Allegedly Firing Employees for Not Being Italian

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Teppan Edo in EPCOT

Credit: Brittany DiCologero

Disney is being sued after letting go of multiple employees.

Crowds taking over EPCOT's World Showcase
Credit: George Trovato / Flickr

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EPCOT is comprised of several lands and areas for guests to explore. These areas include World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and World Showcase. At these various lands, guests will find thrilling rides, incredible attractions, and some educational experiences as well. The latest additions to EPCOT are Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the latter becoming EPCOT’s first-ever roller coaster.

However, for many, World Showcase is the biggest draw of EPCOT, allowing guests to have hands-on experience with several different countries.

Outside seating at the Rose and Crown in World Showcase's United Kingdom Pavilion
Credit: Disney

At World Showcase, guests have access to miniature replicas of the following countries, complete with their own music, atmosphere, attractions, and food:

  • Germany
  • Japan
  • France
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • United Kingdom
  • China
  • Canada
  • Norway
  • Morocco
  • United States

Part of what makes World Showcase so great are the employees, most of whom are transported directly from the country they represent. Unfortunately, Disney has been hit with a lawsuit filed by former employees over their treatment inside World Showcase.

Morocco World Showcase Boat Photo
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

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In a new report from Court Watch, Dahyana Cosme and Timothy Gocklin were hired in 2022 to work in the Italy Pavilion, which is home to several incredible restaurants like Tuttuo Italia and Via Napoli. In 2023, these two cast members were fired and replaced with cast members of actual Italian heritage.

World Showcase is filled with cast members who are actually from the countries they represent. This is achieved through Disney’s Cultural Representative Program, which took a big pause following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. This program started up again in late 2022.

The two were let go due to them not being “culturally authentic” enough to fit in with EPCOT’s World Showcase.

Italy Isola Wedding Venue
Credit: Disney Weddings

After being let go, Cosme and Gocklin are both suing Disney Parks and the Patina Restaurant Group, seeking back pay, punitive damages, and other unspecified compensation. The lawsuit is being handled by Morgan & Morgan and was filed in May of 2023.

Attorneys John Morgan, James Henson, and Matthew Gunter stated, “Our clients’ allegations paint a picture of an intentional and illegal scheme of firing American workers and abusing the Q-1 and J-1 visa systems to replace them. Disney and Patina had plenty of options to handle this situation fairly and legally — for example, by transferring all the American workers to another department or restaurant — but instead allegedly decided to wholesale terminate over 100 workers due to their ethnicity and citizenship status. Operating a cultural exchange program at an internationally-themed park does not absolve Walt Disney World or Patina from their responsibilities to follow all applicable labor laws, and we will hold them accountable for this alleged injustice.”

Stay tuned here at Inside the Magic for more information and updates on this story!

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