Muslim-American sues Disney for harassment and religious discrimination

According to a recent Yahoo News article written by Lisa Richwine, entitled: Ex-worker sues Disney; Says forbids Muslim head scarf, a 28-year old Muslim restaurant employee sued Walt Disney Co on Monday for harassment and religious discrimination. She said she was fired because she wanted to wear hijab — a Muslim head scarf at work.

Imane Boudlal worked as a hostess at the Storytellers Cafe, a restaurant inside Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

After two years of work for Walt Disney and Co, Boudlal asked permission to wear hijab while at work. She offered to wear a scarf that matched the colors of her uniform or featured a Disney logo.

However, Disney managers denied her request. They said it would violate the company’s policy for how employees “look” while on the job. The policy also prohibits visible tattoos and fingernails that exceed a quarter of an inch.

So, Boudlal was given the choice of working in a back area which is away from customers or wearing a fedora-style hat on top of her hijab. Boudlal refused that and then she was fired.

Boudlal, a US citizen who was born in Morocco, complained that she was a subject to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slurs. Her co-workers and supervisors used to call her “terrorist” and “camel”. According to Boudlal, she reported the incidents to the managers but they did not take any actions.

“Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on earth, but I faced harassment as soon as I started working there,” Boudlal said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “It only got worse when I decided to wear hijab.”

Disney said Boudlal had different options for a costume that would accommodate her religious beliefs. She was also offered four different jobs where she could wear hijab.

“Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of accommodating religious requests from cast members of all faiths. Unfortunately, (Boudlal) has rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work,” Disneyland Resort spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and an order that states Disney may not prohibit employees from wearing hijabs. It also asks that Disney be ordered to provide anti-harassment training for employees about Muslim issues.


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