Muslim worker says Disneyland discriminates by banning her head scarf

Imane Boudlal, a 26-year old Muslim woman is free to wear a head scarf. The U.S. Constitution says so. Disneyland can’t discriminate against Ms Boudlal because of her religion. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 says so.

Ms. Boudlal works as a hostess at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel, where employees are called “cast members.” She has worn Disney’s prescribed uniform for over two years, but has asked permission to wear a head scarf. Management told her they would try to get a Disney-appropriate headscarf, but seemed to be dragging their feet.

Ms. Boudlal ran out of patience after a couple of months and showed up for work Sunday wearing a hijab. She was told to either remove it or work out of the customers’ sight. She refused and was sent home—four times. Now she’s suing Disney.

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said Disney has a policy not to discriminate. She said that Boudlal may work with the head covering away from customers while Disneyland tries to find a compromise that would allow her to cover her head in a way that fits with her hostess uniform.

“Typically, somebody in an on-stage position like hers wouldn’t wear something like that, that’s not part of the costume. We were trying to accommodate her with a backstage position that would allow her to work. We gave her a couple of different options and she chose not to take those and to go home.”

Boudlal’s freedom to wear a hijab has run head-on into Disney’s freedom to require workers (cast members) to wear a uniform. Disney appears willing to accommodate Boudlal; Boudlal appears unwilling to accommodate Disney. A freedom of religion issue? No. A case of heartless discrimination by Disney? No. Disney is right, Ms. Boudlal is wrong.

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