Los Angeles: A former Muslim employee of Disneyland has sued the entertainment giant for racial discrimination saying that she was forbidden to wear a head scarf to work.
Imane Boudlal, 28, has charged Disneyland in a lawsuit filed yesterday that she was harassed after she began wearing a hijab in 2010 while working as a cafe hostess.
Boudlal got a job two weeks after moving to California, a hostess position at Disney's California Adventure theme park.
Boudlal alleged in the lawsuit that her co-workers taunted her, calling the Moroccan-born Muslim a "terrorist," a "camel" and someone who learned how to make bombs at her mosque, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She complained to her managers verbally and in writing, she said, with no results.
Boudlal has sued Walt Disney Corporation in federal court, saying that she was discriminated against and harassed for her religious beliefs. She also alleged that she unfairly lost her job in 2010 after refusing to remove her head scarf at work.
"It's been hard," Boudlal said in an interview.
"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," she said.
Boudlal, who is a naturalised US citizen, decided to wear her hijab full time in 2010, about eight months after she began wearing it publicly.
She contacted her supervisors at Disneyland to request an exemption to the company's "look" policy, general appearance guidelines that, according to a Disney website, touch on items ranging from contact lens colour and visible tattoos to personal hygiene.
After weeks of discussions with company officials, the lawsuit said, Boudlal received initial approval to wear a Disney-designed scarf, but she was told it would need corporate approval before she could wear it to work.
Not wanting to wait to mark Ramadan, Boudlal wore her own hijab to work August 15, 2010, when she said she was told she could remove the scarf, cover it with a hat or work in a job out of public sight.
She refused and, after a few additional meetings with Disney, filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency awarded Boudlal a notice of right to sue earlier this month, opening the door for litigation.
Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said the company tried to accommodate Boudlal's needs, as it has with religious requests from other employees from various faiths.
Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney who is representing Boudlal, said his client has not been scheduled to work at the cafe since August 21, 2010. He said Boudlal was suffering from "one of the by-products" of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Story first published:
August 14, 2012 20:37 IST