Three performers who were fired from their roles in Festival of The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after refusing to perform in soiled costumes won their federal arbitration session. This means the cast members will get their jobs back, plus back pay, said a union representative.
On a rainy day last June, the performers said their unitard costumes had been left in the rain and then were brought inside and mingled with sweaty previously worn costumes. When time came to get ready for the next show, the performers asked for clean costumes but were told to go on stage in the soiled ones. When they refused, the performance was canceled. Eventually clean costumes were provided and the next show went on as usual.
Later the three cast members who requested clean uniforms were suspended and then terminated. However their union reps point out a part of the contract that reads:
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.
The arbitrator found that this section was violated by Disney and that the performers should be rehired.
Disney has told local media they will comply with the decision. If that’s the case, it’s a shame Disney let it go this far. Obviously, the performers were willing to go on with the show as long as they had clean uniforms and should not have been punished for Disney failing to provide them. Heck, even if it wasn’t in the contract, no performer should be expected to perform in sweaty soiled costumes. Disney should just do the right thing by its employees. It’s a good thing the union was there to help make this right.
What do you think? Was the arbitrator correct in this case?