Muslim woman files suit against Disney over headscarf dispute

LOS ANGELES — The ACLU is suing The Walt Disney Co. on behalf of a Muslim woman who claims the … Continued

LOS ANGELES — The ACLU is suing The Walt Disney Co. on behalf of a Muslim woman who claims the company discriminated against her by not allowing her to wear a headscarf while working in a Disney restaurant in Anaheim.

Former Disney employee Imane Boudlal worked at the Storytellers Cafe at the California Adventure park, directly across from Disneyland. In 2009 she requested to wear her hijab while working. The ACLU claims that two months later, Disney supervisors denied her request, allegedly due to Disney policies on employee uniforms.

Managers, however, say they worked with Boudlal on several uniform options including one involving a hat, in keeping with the restaurant’s style, to be worn over her hijab.

“We presented Ms. Boudlal with multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several (employment) roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab,” Disney said in a Tuesday (Aug. 14) statement to Religion News Service. “Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.”

Boudlal, a 28-year-old Moroccan American, claims she was fired for repeatedly showing up to work wearing her hijab after her request to wear it was turned down.

This is not the first time Disney has faced a hijab conflict. in 2010, a Muslim member of Disneyland’s summer program for college students wanted to wear her hijab, and was allowed to work at a ticket booth with Disney-designed headwear in place of the headscarf. (Disney park employees who work with the public are barred from having visible tattoos or jewelry, including religious symbols, and men cannot wear earrings.)

Eugene Volokh, a law school professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Boudlal could have “a pretty solid claim under a pretty long line of case (law) under all sorts of religions which have gotten exemptions from uniform policies for their religious headwear. This is not some special right of Muslims.”

Edina Lekovic, policy and programming director at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, noted that Muslim women with hijabs routinely work for the Transportation Security Administration as airport screeners. “If you can have women who wear a hijab who are TSA screeners and work in other aspects of professional life, I can’t see why Disney wouldn’t make an accommodation,” said Lekovic, who wears a hijab.

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  • Christine

    I find it a disgrace and an abuse of our legal system that a lawsuit like this can be taken seriously. If I chose to wear something out of uniform I would be terminated without being given the numerous options and alternatives within other parts of the organization that Imane was offered. It is her own fault that she chose to turn down these options Disney provided to her. Upon hiring she was given the information regarding the uniform policy at Disney and understood the requirements for working there. It was not something that changed after her hiring date, it was something SHE changed after her hiring date. Disney should NOT be held responsible for her choices, she should! She is free and welcome to wear her hijab outside of work hours so if she cares to be employed by Disney (or any other organization that has a uniform policy that does not include a headscarf) she will need to refrain from wearing it during those few hours a week she is at work. Disney is not telling her she cannot believe what she wants and is not discriminating against her religion, they are telling her what she is supposed to wear…her UNIFORM!!! The same as everyone else that works there.

  • kickassmomnyc

    It seems stubborn and foolhardy of her not to accept any of the options Disney offered where should could wear the headscarf at work. Life is all about compromise and it seems to me that Disney offered her reasonable opportunity to do work there without dishonoring her religion. I’m usually on the side of the little guy, fighting for First Amendment and other rights of expression, but I think she’s wrong here.

  • tuhin

    Muslims always create issues to start fighting with non muslims. If she really loves her religion she should be deported to Saudi Arabia !! In Saudi non-muslims are not allowed to practice their religion under any circumstances !! why should a muslim be allowed to practice islam in non Islamic countries. Secondly, wearing a hizab has a security concerns becuause she might keep a bomb inside her hizab to sacrifice her life for the sake of Islam and Muslim as did the 9/11 islamic terrorists.