Universal Orlando Resort has fired an employee who flashed an "OK" sign — a symbol known to be used by white supremacists — while posing in a costume for a photo with a 6-year-old biracial girl with autism.
USA TODAY reports the employee was wearing a costume of "Gru" from the "Despicable Me" animated movies. It posted a photo and video of the March 23 incident, showing the actor standing behind the girl. In the video, the actor initially puts their right hand behind the girl. A few seconds later, the actor's hand is placed on the girl's shoulder, showing the "OK" symbol.
Parents Tiffiney and Richard Zinger told USA TODAY they didn't realize what had happened until August when they started looking through vacation photos.
Tiffiney recognized the symbol.
"I've been emotionally distraught about it. I'm still pretty upset that someone felt they needed to do this to children," she said. "It can cause emotional stress on my child and her development."
The family said once they saw the video, they contacted Universal Orlando.
Universal spokesman Tom Schroder on Wednesday confirmed to The Associated Press that the unidentified actor no longer works for the company. Schroder said what the actor did is unacceptable.
"We never want our guests to experience what this family did," Universal said in a statement to USA TODAY. "This is not acceptable and we are sorry – and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We can’t discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here. We remain in contact with the family and will work with them privately to make this right."
The "OK" is one of 36 known symbols of hate that the Anti-Defamation League just added to its database.
Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, said context is key to interpreting whether an "OK" symbol is hateful or harmless. He said the ADL had been reluctant to add it to the database "because 'OK' has meant just 'OK' for so long."