Hijabs at Disney

Essay by polo15University, Master'sA, November 2012

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Hijabs at Disney


In August of this year, Imane Boudlal sued the Walt Disney Corporation for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The base of Ms. Boudlal's complaint is that Disney is guilty of violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a person's religious beliefs or practices, because the company would not allow her to wear her hijab while working at the Disneyland theme park. Disney contends that they provided Ms. Boudlal with reasonable accommodations for her religious beliefs, but all suggestions were rejected by Ms. Boudlal. The case is ongoing in The Central District of California of the United States District Court, with the most recent action being Disney's answer to Ms. Boudlal's complaint.

Ms. Boudlal started working at Disneyland in 2008 as a hostess as the Storyteller's Café, an on-site restaurant where employees dressed as Disney characters interact with diners.

As part of her public-facing hostess position, Ms. Boudlal was required to follow Disney's longstanding dress code, which requires all public-facing employees to conform to specific dress, grooming and appearance standards. Disney considers their theme parks to be similar to a theatrical production. Employees are called "cast members" and all employees who interact with park guests are considered "on-stage." Because of this ideal, all guest-interaction employees are provided a themed costume to go along with the theme of their specific work environment.

Ms. Boudlal complied with Disney's dress policies for two years while she worked at Storyteller's Café. In June 2010, Ms. Boudlal decided that she permanently needed to wear a hijab at all times in order to act faithfully in accordance with her Muslim religious beliefs. A hijab is a head covering or scarf and is viewed by much of the Muslim population to be an...