A former employee of Walt Disney Parks hit the company with a disability suit in Florida federal court, alleging that his supervisors forced him to urinate in his pants rather than giving him extra bathroom breaks to accommodate for his diabetes.
Stevel Smith filed suit Tuesday claiming the company created a hostile work environment, refused to accommodate his diabetes and retaliated against him, all in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Smith worked for Disney beginning in 2013, claims that he began experiencing discrimination based on his diabetes after he became a resort housekeeper in 2017.
Smith’s diabetes causes frequent urination, as a result of his medical condition Smith requested accommodations to allow him to use the restroom more often and to carry his medication on his person. Unfortunately, Smith claims that his managers refused all of his requests. One of Smith's managers told him she "did not care about his diabetes" when denying him, according to the complaint.
As a result, on several occasions Smith urinated in his pants while on the job and was humiliated by it, often crying in a corner before he could collect himself, he said in the complaint.
In November and December 2019, Smith said he complained to employee relations about the treatment, and though he was promised the issue would be resolved, no formal investigation was ever conducted.
Following the meetings, Smith said his managers began bullying him, assigning more work than he could physically handle and trying to find reasons to terminate him. In March 2020 Smith alleged he overheard two of his supervisors conspiring to find cause to fire him, and later that day his employment was terminated. His supervisor told him he was a "liability" upon letting him go, according to the complaint.
Smith's union told Disney it should have given him a written warning before firing him per company policy, Smith said, but no such written warning was issued.
Smith is also seeking lost wages in addition to damages for emotional suffering and discriminatory employment practices.
"We fully intend to prove that Disney subjected Mr. Smith to a harassing environment because of his disabilities, and that he was terminated for complaining of the same. We commend Mr. Smith — a kind, gentle and hardworking person — for coming forward and openly discussing his experience. We are confident the truth will be exposed and look forward to presenting Mr. Smith's claims in court," Brett D. Kaplan of Derek Smith Law Group, who is representing Smith, told Law360.