A Muslim woman announced today that she'll be filing a discrimination complaint against Disneyland because her bosses there sent her home for wearing her hijab.
According to the AP, Imane Boudlal has been working at Disneyland for two and a half years and is currently a hostess at the park's Storyteller Restaurant. Sunday, she decided to wear her hijab to work in order to observe Ramadan, but her bosses insisted she remove it. When she refused, she was sent home without pay. The OC Weekly says she tried to go to work wearing the hijab two more times, but was sent home each time — and now she's filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to MousePad, Boudlal "had always removed the hijab before coming to work because she had been told that it was not allowed as part of the 'Disney Look,' Disney's dress code for cast members." Also, "Boudlal had previously applied for a "religious exemption" to the Disney Look, requesting that Disney allow her to wear the hijab to work, but [...] managers 'strung her along' for a month without answer." But Boudlal recently became an American citizen, and her union says she "decided to challenge the [Disney Look] after winning United States citizenship in June and learning her constitutional right to freedom of religion." Says Boudlal, "The Constitution tells me I can be Muslim, and I can wear the head scarf. Who is Disney to tell me I cannot?"
It's a fair question. After all, Boudlal's not playing a character, and there's no reason the "Disney Look" should exclude expressions of Islam. Frankly, it's hard to see a justification for banning the hijab for employees other than simple prejudice, and it's time for Boudlal's bosses to get some religious sensitivity training. If nothing else, the more than 370,000 Muslim residents of California may not want to patronize a theme park that says their religion isn't part of its "Look."
Disneyland Prohibits Muslim Worker From Wearing Hijab On The Job, Suit Claims [OC Weekly]
Muslim Employee: Disney Banned Her Hijab [AP, via San Jose Mercury News]
Muslim Cast Member Claims Disneyland Sent Her Home For Wearing Hijab [MousePad]