HK Disney dancers sacked for sexual antics
Four male dancers have been sacked at Hong Kong Disneyland after naked antics in their dressing room were caught on video and circulated among staff, the theme park confirmed Monday.
The four Filipinos who danced in Disneyland's daily parades were accused of indulging in "acts of a sexually indecent nature" in front of up to 20 other employees on August 4.
One witness videotaped the incident using his camera phone and circulated it to other employees before it was passed to executives at the 3.5-billion-US-dollar theme park, which opened a year ago.
The incident, according to theme-park insiders, involved one of the dancers having his towel forcibly removed and other actions mimicking gay sexual activity.
The four dancers, aged 22 to 35, were sacked for gross misconduct and sexual harassment of other employees, Disneyland's vice president for public affairs Lo Bing-chung confirmed in a statement Monday.
However, the dancers, who earn 1,300 US dollars a month, claim their antics were no more than "horseplay" and are taking Disney to an industrial tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.
One of the four, a 23-year-old who gave his name as Mark, accused Disney of double standards by banning the use of videos in dressing rooms but then using video evidence to justify the dismissals.
"We were treated like animals, like dogs," said Mark in a telephone interview from Manila, claiming he was the victim in the incident when the three other dancers ganged up on him and grabbed his towel from him as he changed.
"We just finished the parade and everyone was changing and there were a lot of guys in the changing room and they decided to tease me," he said. "They pulled my towel."
"Guys often do that in a changing room," he added. "They were just teasing me. I didn't enjoy what happened, but I didn't have any power to say no because they were holding my arms and legs.
"Nothing else happened. It was just that my private areas got exposed. That was it. … The whole thing only lasted about 20 seconds."
Elaine Hui of the Disney Cast Members Union, which is helping the four men prepare for their opening industrial tribunal hearing on September 20, said Disney had refused to let the four men see the incriminating video.
"I don't think they have been treated fairly," she said. "The incident took place in the private time of the cast members and even the 'victim' says it was just horseplay among themselves."
She also complained that the four sacked staff, who had worked for Disneyland since before its opening, were given tickets home to Manila dated two days after their sacking, which they were unable to change.
"They have a feeling Disney just wanted to send them back to their home country as soon as possible to get rid of any possible trouble," Hui said.
Lo, however, responded, "The cast members were involved in acts of a sexually indecent nature that were offensive to, or at least disturbing [to], other employees who witnessed the incident.
"We received the video anonymously from concerned cast members. … We have received legal advice not to circulate this video. Further, due to the sexually explicit and indecent nature of its contents, we feel in would be very inappropriate for the company to circulate the video."
Hong Kong Disneyland, which has about 5,000 employees, is the first Disney park on Chinese soil and is to celebrate its first anniversary on September 11.
Earlier this year, it raised salaries for costumed characters who meet and greet guests after they complained of low pay and threatened to disrupt one of the parades with a protest over working conditions.
The theme park's first year has been marred by claims of low attendances, and it was expected to fall short of its target of 5.6 million visitors in its first 12 months.