Appeals Court Revives Disney Mask Case

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Posted May 26, 2022 | Florida News Service

An appeals court Wednesday revived a disability-discrimination complaint filed by a man who contended that Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts did not properly provide an exemption from its mask policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aaron Abadi filed the complaint at the Florida Commission on Human Relations under a state civil-rights law and said he had a disability that prevented him from wearing a mask or face shield, according to Wednesday’s ruling by a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal.

The commission dismissed the complaint, finding that he did not allege how he had been denied services because he did not visit Disney. But the appeals court said such a visit was not necessary to move forward with the case.

“Appellant (Abadi) alleged that he visited appellee (Disney) on a yearly basis before the COVID pandemic; planned to visit appellee with his family in late September or early October 2021; and requested an exemption from appellee’s face-covering policy due to his disability, which was denied by appellee,” said the ruling by Judges Joseph Lewis, Ross Bilbrey and Harvey Jay.

“Because appellant plausibly alleged that he was aware of discriminatory conditions at appellee’s public accommodation and that the denial of his request for a modification deterred him from visiting or patronizing that accommodation, the commission improperly dismissed appellant’s complaint on an invalid ground.”

The ruling, which sent the case back to the commission, did not specify Abadi’s disability.