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Former Disneyland Employee Files Religious Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit Over Headscarf

August 30, 2012

In recent Anaheim, California employment lawsuit news, a former Disneyland Resort Café employee is suing Walt Disney Corporation in federal court, claiming that she was harassed, discriminated against and wrongfully terminated because of her religious beliefs and practices.

Vincent Howard discussed this case in a previous Costa Mesa labor and employment attorney blog, after the Muslim employee, Imane Boudlal filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Commission (EEOC)--accusing Disney of religious discrimination by forcing her to remove her headscarf, or hijab, at work. The EEOC reportedly awarded Boudlal the right to sue this month, paving the way for litigation.

Boudlal, who is a Moroccan native and naturalized citizen of the United States, reportedly started to work as a hostess at the Disneyland restaurant in 2008, shortly after moving to Southern California. According to the lawsuit, after Boudlal decided to wear her hijab fulltime in 2010, she approached her Disneyland supervisors to request an exemption to the company's specific appearance policy.

The religious discrimination lawsuit claims that Boudlal initially received approval to wear a Disney designed scarf, but was told she would need to get corporate approval before being able to wear the scarf to work. While observing Ramadan, Boudlal proceeded to wear her own headscarf to work and claims she was told that she was in violation of Disney's policy--and she could either take the scarf off, cover it with a restaurant themed hat, or take another job position that removed her from public contact.

After refusing these alternative options, Boudlal was reportedly sent home without pay. She then filed the EEOC complaint--claiming that she was not only discriminated against by her employer, but also repeatedly harassed by her colleagues from the start of her employment with derogatory names like a "camel" and "terrorist." After reporting the incidents to her managers both in writing and verbally, Boudlal stated that nothing happened.

The discrimination and harassment lawsuit seeks damages for Boudlal and requests that the court orders Disney to let Muslim employees wear their own headscarves in public positions without having to cover them with company themed hats or scarves, and asks that Disney employees receive discrimination and harassment training.

As Vincent Howard has previously reported, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, religious discrimination is illegal, and an employee's religious garment must be accommodated in the workplace. According to the EEOC, no employee should have to choose between their job and their religious beliefs--and employers must accommodate employees' religious practices and sincere beliefs, including religious attire like a hijab, unless the garment causes an undue burden for the company and its business operations.

In cities throughout Orange County, California and Southern California, contact attorney Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.

Ex-Disneyland worker expected to sue over head scarf, alleged harassment, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2012

Muslim employee's suit accuses Disney of bias over head scarf, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2012

Disney says Muslim woman had options in head scarf dispute, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC): Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)

Related Blog Posts:

Jury Awards $5 Million to Muslim Woman in AT&T Religious Discrimination Lawsuit, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 15, 2012

California Muslim Alleges Religious Harassment and Racial Discrimination in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 5, 2012

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace and Reasonable Accommodation, California Employment Lawyers Blog , August 18, 2011

Abercrombie Hit With Another Religious Discrimination Lawsuit over Hijab, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 7, 2011

EEOC Hits Abercrombie With Another Religious Discrimination Suit over "Look" of Muslim Teen Applicant, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 14, 2010

Muslim Files EEOC Discrimination Complaint Over Disney's Costume Policy--in Order to Wear Hijab, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 26, 2010

CAIR-CA Report Shows Rise in Harassment and Employment Discrimination Against Muslims, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 24, 2009

Muslim Housekeeper Fired for Wearing Head Scarf--Wins Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 21, 2009

EEOC Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Abercrombie & Fitch--Muslim Teen Denied Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 23, 2009