09/30/2012 // Los Angeles, CA, USA // Keller Grover LLP // Los Angeles attorney Eric Grover // (press release)
Los Angeles, CA — Even the “Happiest Place on Earth” isn’t immune to discrimination and harassment claims, as an employment lawsuit accuses Walt Disney Corp. of not allowing an employee to wear her religious head scarf while on the job, reports Eric Grover, a Los Angeles employment lawyer.
Moroccan-born Muslim Imane Boudlal filed the employment lawsuit on Monday, August 12, 2012, in federal court alleging that she unfairly lost her job in 2010, after she refused to remove her head scarf at work, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Boudlal, who was employed as a hostess at a café at the Disneyland Resort, decided to wear her hijab full time in 2010, which prompted her to contact her supervisors to request an exemption from the company “look” policy. After long conversations with her supervisors about the exemption, Boudlal was given tentative permission to wear a scarf designed by Disney, which needed subsequent corporate approval before she could begin wearing it on the job.
But to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Boudlal decided to wear her own hijab to work on Aug. 15, 2010. Once arriving at work, she was told that she could remove the scarf, cover it with a hat or work a job that is not in public sight. Boudlal refused Disney’s request.
In addition, Boudlal claims that her co-workers began to call her names like, “terrorist,” a “camel” and “someone who learned how to make bombs at her mosque.” Boudlal made a verbal complaint and drafted a complaint in writing, but her complaints were left unanswered.
“It’s been hard,” Boudlal said in an interview, as the LATimes.com reported. “I thought it was just a matter of complaining and a few days, and it wouldn’t affect my life, but it turns out … nothing has been done.”
After a few more attempts to reach an accord with Disney officials, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Boudlal’s attorney asserts that she is a victim of “one of the byproducts” of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks. But, Disney officials refute Boudlal’s claims stating, “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,” said _____Brown, a Disney spokesperson. “Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.”
The lawsuit is seeking damages, as well as harassment and discrimination training for Disney employees. It is also seeking a court order to ensure that Disney allows Muslim employees to wear hijabs in public positions without the requirement to wear an additional cover-up.
“Under state and federal laws, discriminating against someone’s religion is not only illegal, but it morally and ethically wrong,” says Eric Grover, a Los Angeles employment lawyer.
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