Daily Israel Report

Muslim Sues Disney over Head Scarf Ban

A Moroccan-born Muslim is suing Disney for discrimination because management demanded she wear a hat to cover her head scarf
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/14/2012, 8:13 PM

"Former Disney employee Boudlal next to poster with images of Princess Jasmine from "Aladdin
"Former Disney employee Boudlal next to poster with images of Princess Jasmine from "Aladdin
Reuters

A Moroccan-born Muslim is suing Disney for discrimination because management demanded she  wear a hat to cover her head scarf.

Imane Boudlal worked as hostess at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa's Storyteller's Cafe, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Her lawsuit, sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union alleges that she lost her job two years ago because she refused to remove her Muslim head scarf. Boudlal also said her co-workers badgered her and called her a “terrorist.”

Disney’s policy on dress, hygiene and appearance forbids heads scarves, and she requested an exemption

Official allowed her to wear a Disney-designed heard scarf, pending approval from high-ups. Boudlal was anxious not to appear without a scarf during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the summer of 2010 and wore her own hijab. She refused orders to remove it or cover it with a hat. Orthodox Jewish women usually wear hats as a head covering in public, although scarves are more common in Israel.

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown told the Times the company tried to accommodate her religious needs as it does with workers from other faiths.

"We presented Ms. Boudlal with multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab," Brown was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work."

ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum said that Boudlal was suffering from "one of the byproducts" of the Sept. 11, 2001 Al Qaeda  terrorist attacks. "I think her experience is not unlike that of many Muslims," he said. "America was invented based on our commitment to religious freedom and that got lost or shredded after 9/11."

In a separate case two years ago, a Muslim agreed to wear a beret-style hat on her headscarf.