Muslim worker taken off Disneyland's schedule

ANAHEIM — A Muslim woman who is fighting for the right to wear her religious scarf to her hostess job at Disneyland has been taken off the schedule.

Disney officials say they stopped putting Imane Boudlal on the schedule during the ongoing issue.

The hotel workers' union claims that Boudlal, a restaurant hostess at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, was suspended without pay.

On Tuesday, Boudlal rejected a third, alternative head covering that Disney provided, and she was sent home for the eighth time.

Disney previously offered Boudlal four other assignments that would allow her to wear her own head scarf, called a hijab, which some Muslim women wear as a form of modesty.

Disney is known for its strict dress code, called the Disney Look.

Boudlal, through the union, described the most recent head covering as an over-sized chef's hat. She previously rejected a hat over a bonnet.

"The hat makes a joke of my religion and draws even more attention to me," Boudlal says. "It's unacceptable. They don't want me to look Muslim," Boudlal says. "They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."

Two months ago, Boudlal told her managers she wanted a "religious accommodation" to the company's dress code to wear the scarf to work during the holy month of Ramadan and beyond. Disney, however, refused, Boudlal said.

On Aug. 15, Boudlal wore her hijab to work but was told that if she wanted to work as a hostess she would have to remove the head scarf. Disney told her she could work in the back of the restaurant — away from customers — or go home without pay. Boudlal chose to go home.

"Typically, somebody in an on-stage position like hers wouldn't wear something like that; that's not part of the costume," Brown said. "We were trying to accommodate her with a backstage position that would allow her to work. We gave her a couple of different options, and she chose not to take those and to go home."

Boudlal said she doesn't understand why she cannot wear her scarf to work.

"My scarf doesn't do anything to harm Disney or the guests," she said.

She filed a discrimination complaint against Disney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week.

Boudlal has worked at Disneyland for two and a half years, but didn't try to wear the hijab to work until a week ago.

She is an immigrant from Morocco and has been in the United States for five years. She became a U.S. citizen in June.

After being granted her citizenship, Boudlal decided to challenge Disney's strict clothing rules. She says the U.S. Constitution grants everyone religious freedom and that right applies in this case.

"The Constitution tells me I can be Muslim, and I can wear the head scarf," Boudlal said. "Who is Disney to tell me I cannot?"

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