Disneyland can expect a lawsuit from former employee, Imane Boudlal, for their alleged refusal to let her wear her hijab, a Muslim head scarf, in front of customers.
Boudlal worked at 'the happiest place on earth' in California for two and a half years until late 2010. When she began wearing her hijab to work, management told her to take it off, work where customers couldn't see her, or go home.
That was two years ago. After the incident Boudlal filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last week they sent her a 'notice of right-to-sue.'
Not all employment discrimination complaints go to court. Claims must first go through the EEOC administrative process.
If that process fails, the EEOC notifies complainants that they can bring a suit in court which is what happened here.
Boudlal allegedly had to deal with derogatory comments about her religion and ethnicity while working at Disneyland. Coworkers harassed her, calling her 'terrorist,' reports the Los Angeles Times.
She reported the incidents to her manager but nothing was done.
Then while studying for a citizenship exam, Boudlal realized she could wear her head scarf to work given U.S. protections for freedom of religion. But when she did wear it to work she was allegedly told she must stay out of sight or take it off.
Federal employment discrimination laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for their religion. That generally extends to employees whose religious practice requires a certain dress code.
For employees like Boudlal who have specific clothing requirements, employers must make reasonable accommodations so that workers can wear religious garments.
Boudlal's supervisor allegedly told her she could only wear a Disney provided hijab at work but no date was given for when one would be ready. She was not allowed to wear her own head scarf in the meantime.
Boudlal is being represented by the ACLU and is expected to file suit soon against Disneyland for their refusal to let her wear the traditional Muslim head scarf. Disneyland claims that they make accommodations for religion but cannot comment on this particular case.
- Disney Sued by Muslim Ex-Employee for Alleged Discrimination (The Hollywood Reporter)
- EEOC Claims FAQ (FindLaw)
- Muslim Police Officer Kimberlie Webb Loses Discrimination Claims Based on Headscarf Ban: Workplace Dresscodes and Discrimination (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)