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Religious Discrimination At The Happiest Place On Earth

Imane Boudlal, a 28-year-old former hostess at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ Storyteller Café in California, wore a hijab to work in August 2010. Disney response to her Muslim head covering is now the basis for an employment discrimination lawsuit.

Her supervisors at Disney did not welcome what they deemed as dress that was outside of the accepted uniform for hostesses at the resort where Boudlal worked. She was asked to remove the scarf, change positions to one that was out of the view of Disney guests or to go home. Boudlal chose to go home, but reported for work for two more days wearing her head scarf.

Disney offered Boudlal a hat to wear over her headscarf as an attempt to accommodate her religious dress, but Boudlal refused to wear it. “It’s unacceptable. They don’t want me to look Muslim. They just don’t want the head covering to look like a hijab,” Boudlal commented about the addition of a hat to her uniform.

She is now suing her former employer for harassment, discrimination based on religion and wrongful termination.

Disney has responded to the lawsuit, emphasizing that it is an advocate of diversity. The refusal to allow Boudlal to wear a head scarf in view of Disney guests is simply Disney’s way of staying out of religion. It does not want to appear to support one religion over another. Beards are similarly disallowed at Disney parks and resorts.

Boudlal reportedly had worked for Disney for over two years before she learned, while studying for her citizenship exam, that she may have the right to wear religious clothing in the workplace.

Source: LA Times, “Ex-Disneyland worker expected to sue over head scarf, alleged harassment,” August 13, 2012

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