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Muslim woman sues Disney for forbidding head scarves

Lawsuit claims she was fired for asking to wear a hijab to work

Disneyland was hardly a magical place to work for Imane Boudlal. She sued Walt Disney Co. on Monday over claims that she faced harassment and religious discrimination when she worked at one of the theme park’s restaurants.

Boudlal was a hostess at Disneyland’s Storytellers Café, and alleges that she was fired because two years into her employment, she asked if she could wear a Muslim head scarf—a hijab—to work. To accommodate Disney’s rather strict policy on employee appearance, Boudlal offered to wear a hijab with a Disney logo, or one that matched the colors of her uniform.

According to the lawsuit, Boudlal’s managers denied this request, instead telling her she could wear a fedora on top of her head scarf, or work in the back where customers couldn’t see her. When she declined, she was fired.

Even before this incident, Boudlal claims that she faced racial and religious discrimination at work, with co-workers and supervisors calling her “terrorist” and “camel.” When she reported the slurs to managers, they did nothing, the suit says.

"Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on earth, but I faced harassment as soon as I started working there," Boudlal said in a statement. "It only got worse when I decided to wear a hijab." She is seeking punitive damages, and an order forcing Disney to allow its employees to wear hijabs.

"Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of accommodating religious requests from cast members of all faiths," Suzi Brown, a spokesperson for Disneyland Resorts, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, [Boudlal] has rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.”

Read more at Thomson Reuters.


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