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Disney slapped with a labor lawsuit claiming religious discrimination

According to plaintiff, Imane Boudlal, Disney did not approve of her wearing of a hijab, an important aspect of the Muslim faith.

After working in Disney’s Storyteller Hotel restaurant for over 2 years, she approached her supervisors to seek their permission to wear her hijab to work.

Boudlal was given permission to wear a headscarf, but only one designed and approved by Disney. Eventually fitted with a scarf that encompassed the look and feel of Disneyland, Boudlal was not provided with a date as to when she could begin wearing the customized scarf. She was also told, according to the report, that she would not be allowed to wear her own hijab over the interim.

With the onset of Ramadan, and in the absence of further word from Disney, Boudlal went ahead and wore her hijab to her job.

In her California labor lawsuit, Boudlal said that in August 2010, when she began wearing her hijab for work, she alleges to have been told by Disney to either remove the hijab, or work “backstage” where she would not be seen by patrons. On 7 separate occasions Boudlal was allegedly sent home without pay for wearing her hijab to work.

Disney’s eventual solution was to offer Boudlal a substitute headdress that Boudlal found unacceptable. In an interview with KTLA Los Angeles, Boudlal is reported to have said: “The hat makes a joke of me and my religion, and draws even more attention to me. It’s unacceptable. They don’t want me to look Muslim.” Boudlal was soon suspended from her job.

Boudlal filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010 and finally received a notice of her right to sue in August 2012.

A new California labor law “AB 1964” went into affect in January 2013, offering more protection against such discrimination allegedly suffered by Boudlal. AB 1964 clarifies that religious dress and grooming practices are covered by existing and updated protections against religious discrimination.

According to the new California labor law specifically notes that segregating an employee is not interpreted as a reasonable accommodation.

If you are being discriminated against by your employer, please give my office, The Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman a call today at (877) 449-8898 for a free consultation.