Musician who sued Walt Disney World gets support from national Sikh group

A Broward County musician who sued Walt Disney World last week claiming the “Disney Look” of grooming is a form of religious discrimination is getting backing from the national Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund today.

Sukhbir Channa, 24, sued Disney last week in Hillsborough County claiming that the theme park company refused to rehire him in 2006 because his beard, long hair and his turban — which he contends are religiously-mandated — did not conform with Disney’s grooming and dress requirements known as “The Disney Look.”

His attorney Matthew Sarelson is seeking class-action status for the suit, meaning he wants the judge to consider the case on behalf of all similar people.

Walt Disney World officials have not yet commented on the case, which was filed last Thursday in circuit court in Tampa, Channa’s former home.

This morning the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund is holding a press conference in Miami to rally support for Channa’s suit.

Channa, a trumpet player who now lives in Davie, performed at Disney World in late 2005 and early 2006 while he was a student at the University of South Florida. His suit contends he was terminated in early 2006 “for not having the appropriate look.” The following fall he tried to get rehired to the same role but was turned down.

“But for ‘the look’ problem, plaintiff would have been rehired by Disney in October, 2006,” Channa’s complaint states.

His suit seeks damages “in excess of $1 million” and to enjoin Disney from further discrimination against other Sikhs.

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Orlando Sentinel, USA
June 16, 2008
Scott Power

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 4:43 PM, Central European Time (CET)