Orange County News

Disney worker claims religious discrimination

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Disneyland employee refusing to wear a Disney-supplied hat on the job, in place of her traditional Muslim headscarf, has charged Disney with religious discrimination.

Imane Boudlal sits at home in Anaheim, another day away from work. She is embarrassed by a costume that her employer, Disneyland, offered to her to wear. The hat is meant to replace her hijab, the headscarf, a part of her Muslim faith.

"It's ridiculous, just making fun of me and my religion," said Boudlal.

The 26-year-old accuses Disneyland of discrimination for not letting her wear her hijab at work.

For more than two years, Boudlal has worked as a restaurant hostess at a Disneyland resort. Last week, she decided to start wearing her headscarf to work.

She was sent home without pay seven times since then, rather than removing her hijab or accepting positions out of view of customers.

Disney officials say they offered Boudlal several options: "She asked that the costume be altered. Those alterations were made and a modified costume was presented to her that meets our costuming guidelines and which we believe provides an accommodation of her religious beliefs. We also provided four different roles that she could transition to that would allow her to wear her own hijab. She has twice chosen to reject all of the options that we've presented."

"All the positions they offer me, they're in the back, so which makes me for sure that the problem is my look and my religion," said Boudlal.

Disney says some of the positions offered include in the bakery as well as taking restaurant reservations over the phone.

Disney says it's an entertainment company. Costumed cast members are an important part of the theme parks and resorts. When employees are hired, the expectation to meet Disney's appearance guidelines is made very clear.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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