Fired Disney World performers win arbitration over sweaty costumes

Amanda McKenzie
News 13
May 06, 2015

Three Walt Disney World performers who were fired from the Festival of the Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom after refusing to wear sweaty, soiled costumes will get their jobs back after winning an arbitration case.

A representative from the Teamsters Local 385 Union said Monday the arbitration process was finally over, and a federal arbitrator ruled in favor of the cast members, who lost their jobs in June 2014 after they said they would not perform in dirty costumes.

According to witness testimony in the case, the sweaty costumes were caught outside in the rain on June 10, 2014. When the time came to prepare for the 6 p.m. show that evening, some performers found the soiled costumes pushed up against their clean clothes.

"They went to management and said, 'We need new unitards. These need to be washed, something,'" said Teamsters representative Donna-Lynne Dalton.

The union said management wanted them to wear the soiled costumes for the sake of the show, but the three performers refused, saying it was unsanitary. Management then cancelled the performance that evening.

The performers did eventually get clean unitards and perform for the next show, but the three, full-time cast members were later suspended and then terminated.

In November, the Teamsters union showed News 13 a copy of the character addendum that stated:

"All costume pieces shall receive a minimum of 12 hours of drying and sanitation between performances…

No character performer shall be required to wear any costume piece worn by another Character Performer."

Now that an arbitrator has ruled in the cast members' favor, the three performers will not only be rehired, but they'll also receive full back pay.

"Disney will comply with the decision," a media representative for Walt Disney World told News 13 on Monday.

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