Ex-Worker, Imane Boudlal, Sues Disney For Not Letting Her Wear Muslim Head Scarf

A former Disneyland employee who says she was forbidden to wear a Muslim head scarf at work has filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. for discrimination.

The federal suit was filed Monday in Los Angeles on behalf of Imane Boudlal, who began working as a hostess at a Disneyland Resort cafe in 2008, but hasn't worked at the Anaheim attraction for about two years.

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In her lawsuit, Boudlal says she was discriminated against and harassed because of her religious beliefs, the Los Angeles Times reports. She also alleges that she unfairly lost her job in 2010 after refusing to remove the Muslim head scarf, known as a hijab, that she wore while working.

She also alleges that Disney failed to respond to verbal and written complaints she made against her co-workers, who she says called her a "terrorist" and "camel," and said she was learning to make bombs at her mosque.

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Boudlal said that she was forbidden to wear the head scarf because it wasn't part of her approved work costume. Disney maintains strict standards for the appearance of its employees, which even extend to the color of contact lenses that its workers wear.

In an interview, Boudlal told the newspaper that since the dispute her life has been difficult. "I thought it was just a matter of complaining and a few days, and it wouldn't affect my life," she said. "But it turns out ... nothing has been done."

The employee's suit follows an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling earlier this month, granting her the right to sue.

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown told the Times that the company tried to accommodate Boudlal's needs, as it has with other employees of various faiths.

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Boudlal was presented "with multiple options" and was offered several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab, Brown said. "Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work."

The "options" took the form of hats (such as the one that Boudlal wears in the photo above) and Disney-themed scarves, Boudlal said.

Boudlal, who has a degree in hotel management, said that she's concerned that publicity from the lawsuit will make it difficult for her to find a job in her field. So she has returned to college in the hope of finding a new career, telling the Times, "I just want to pick something that will get me a job."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.





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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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bringthefamily

You weren't fired because of your headdress, you were fired for making bad decisions. For example, wearing religious attire to work. They should bring back that old saying "Daaaaaaaaaaa!" You can't were a cross or David's star to work at Disney as well. She signed an agreement when Disney hired her.

Definition - Frivolous lawsuit!

August 19 2012 at 10:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bringthefamily

Definition - Frivolous lawsuit.

August 19 2012 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
linjack39

Did she wear her Muslim head scarf when she applied for the Disneyland job? Did she wear her Muslim head scarf when she interviewed for the job? I bet she didn't!

August 17 2012 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mary

She knew what the dress code was when she took the job. When do we say enough.

August 16 2012 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
t.doherty

where are the atheist on this one - or do the only attack christians?

August 16 2012 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
paganstve

why was this never a problem 10 years ago?

August 15 2012 at 11:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brett46

Hey, when in Rome...

August 15 2012 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
insclmserv

I am so sick and tired of people trying to get money for this kind of CRAP. She knew the rules of Disney before she ever started working there. Trust me.....when me and my husband applied there over 20 years ago....Disney made it very clear what was and was NOT acceptable for your personal look. She clearly is just looking for money and a FREE ride. Go back to your own country and you can look however you would like.....problem solved. If I were to go to her country and wear the clothes I do here....I would be stoned or probably raped and beheaded. I say get over it lady and move back to where you originally came from I am sick of you people and trying to change things here to meet your needs.

August 15 2012 at 6:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bpdarling

There was a time at Disney when men could not even have FACIAL HAIR! And our hair in back could not touch our collar. I don't think it is discriminating to this woman. Disney has strict costumes, and she was offered several other positions that would have accommodated her, but she refused them. If one of her co-workers made inappropriate comments in her opinion, that is another matter entirely, and Disney is ALSO very compiant with that kind of stuff as well. Unfortunate, but it appears that this women might have OTHER motivations.....than just wearing a head scarf.

August 15 2012 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrkoe

I worked at DisneyWorld in Orlando and it was made very clear to myself and all new hires that the costumes may not be altered or added to in any way, the guys had regular checks regarding the length of our hair, etc.... There are plenty of very good "backstage" employment opportunities where requirements are less strict and apparently Disney made those offers to her and she refused. As far as her co-workers comments and insults, if they indeed occurred, then those employees should have been fired as that is also not acceptable "Disney Cast Member" conduct.

August 15 2012 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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