Disneyland: The Happiest Place on Earth No More?

Two overworked contract staff of Tokyo Disneyland (under Oriental Land in Japan) have filed a lawsuit against the happiest place on earth for 7.55 million yen for power harassment. Oriental Land rejects the claim and takes a defensive stance.

Ms. X is a lady in her 20s hired in Feb 2015 at an hourly pay of 1,100 yen, while Ms. Y in her 30s was hired in Apr 2008 drawing a salary of 1,630 yen an hour.

For Ms. X, her role was to perform in costumes for 30-45 minutes each time as well as take pictures, shake hands with and greet visitors. According to a work record in Dec 2016, X was made to do a 30-minute greeting followed by a 10-minute break and then immediately go for another greeting. This repeated for 7 times that day.

It is not uncommon for shows and parades at Tokyo Disneyland to go as scheduled under small rain and strong winds. However, the wet weather causes costumes to get heavier resulting in greater physical strain on the performers. And this caused Ms. X to be diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which sees numbness and pain in her limbs and body, after she was made to put on costumes weighing some 30 kg and dance in them. This was officially recognised as a labour accident.

For Ms. Y, when her ring finger was deliberately twisted by a visitor to the park in Jan 2013, her supervisor rejected her application for labour accident coverage and told her to bear with it because she’s in the entertainment industry and told her she’s too weak.

Ms. Y also alleged that when the polluted waiting room caused her asthma attack and she requested for something to be done about it, a management staff told her to just die as they do not need 30-year-old old hags. The verbal abuse was also said to be carried out by 12 other staff members.

Since Jan 2017, a union requested a total of 6 times for Oriental Land to set aside 30-minute breaks on top of official apologies and medical fees for the plaintiffs. On top of that, they also requested for work place improvement plans to be submitted.

However, while Oriental Land has admitted to the workplace accidents, they rejected the claim that the company has been lax in safety and has done nothing to improve the situation.

Despite the lawsuit, it’s hard to imagine the theme park having fewer visitors due to this case. Even if it does, it is hard to foresee tickets getting cheaper as tickets have constantly gotten more expensive for the purpose of reducing crowd yet the crowd doesn’t appear to slow, so any reduction could possibly be welcomed by the happiest place on Earth. Or is it still?

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