By Lisa Richwine
Aug 13 A former Disneyland restaurant employee
sued Walt Disney Co on Monday for harassment and
religious discrimination, saying she was fired because she
wanted to wear a Muslim head scarf at work.
Imane Boudlal, a 28-year-old Muslim, worked as a hostess at
the Storytellers Cafe, a restaurant inside Disney's Grand
California Hotel & Spa at Disneyland in Anaheim, California,
according to a complaint filed in federal court.
Two years into the job, Boudlal asked permission to wear a
hijab, a head scarf worn by Muslim women, while at work. She
said she offered to wear a scarf that matched the colors of her
uniform or featured a Disney logo.
According to her lawsuit, Disney managers denied her
request, saying it would violate the company's policy for how
employees "look" while on the job. Among the restrictions, the
policy prohibits visible tattoos and fingernails that exceed a
quarter of an inch, the lawsuit said.
Boudlal said she was given the choice of working in a back
area, away from customers, or wearing a fedora-style hat on top
of her head scarf. When Boudlal refused, she was fired, the
A U.S. citizen who was born in Morocco, Boudlal said she was
also subject to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slurs, including being
called "terrorist" and "camel" by co-workers and supervisors.
She said she reported the incidents to managers, but they took
"Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on earth, but I
faced harassment as soon as I started working there," Boudlal
said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties
Union of Southern California. "It only got worse when I decided
to wear a hijab."
Disney said it offered Boudlal several options for a costume
that would accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as four
different jobs where she could wear her own hijab.
"Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of
accommodating religious requests from cast members of all
faiths," Disneyland Resort spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in a
"Unfortunately, (Boudlal) has rejected all of our efforts
and has since refused to come to work," Brown said.
The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and an order that states
Disney may not prohibit employees from wearing hijabs. It also
asks that Disney be ordered to provide anti-harassment training
for employees about Muslim issues.
The case is Boudlal v. Disney.