[UPDATED with Park Reaction, 5 Boudlal v. Disney Surprises:] Imane Boudlal, Who Clashed with Disney over Wearing Hijab on Job, Sues

See the update at the end of this post on Disney's response and five surprising allegations from Boudlal v. Disney.

Imane-Boudlal_square.jpg
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 13, 9:17 A.M.: At 10:30 this morning, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the law offices of Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick are scheduled to announce "a lawsuit against a major media and entertainment company on behalf of a Muslim former employee, fired for wearing the hijab headscarf at work." But the identity of the players has already been leaked: the Walt Disney Co. and Imane Boudlal, a former Grand Californian hotel restaurant hostess who was first told to remove her hijab and, when she refused, to wear a hat over it.

Boudlal, who is not identified in an announcement embargoed until the press conference begins in downtown Los Angeles, "faced increasing levels of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim harassment" during her two years on the job, "culminating with her dismissal in 2010 when she began wearing the hijab," according to the ACLU.

The way Boudlal preferred to look on the job and an alternative proposed by Disney management was released at the time by the worker's labor union:

Hijab-substitute-Disney.jpg
Courtesy of UNITE HERE Local 11
Here is some of our previous coverage of the case:

Disneyland Prohibits Muslim Worker from Wearing Hijab on the Job, Suit Claims

Muslim Woman and Her Support Team Allege Disneycrimination in Hijab Flap, Suggest Top Brass Ride "It's a Small World"

Imane Boudlal, Muslim Fighting Disney for Right to Wear Hijab: "We Should Just Accept Each Other and Respect Each Other"

Imane Boudlal, Disney Worker Who Sparked Hijab Flap, Rejects New Company Compromise

Imane Boudlal, Battling Disney Over Head Scarf, Suspended Without Pay?

UPDATE, AUG. 14, 12:27 P.M.: Disney spokeswoman Suzy Brown issued the following statement about Imane Boudlal's lawsuit accusing the company of harassment and religious discrimination because she is a North African Arab and a Muslim.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of accommodating religious requests from cast members of all faiths. 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.

Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.


Speaking of statements, the ACLU of Southern California released its own following Monday's press conference in Los Angeles announcing the suit. The five most surprising allegations in Boudlal v. Disney follow on the next page . . .

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33 comments
JamesRobertReade
JamesRobertReade

If the scarf is worn over the head all the time by a woman or anyone for that matter living in the United States then I view it as being self afflicted oppression. In the desert, of course, it offers protection from the sun. People with Lupus wear head scarfs for obvious reasons. I sometimes view this type of clothing as oppressive when worn in the Middle East although women may become so accustomed to wearing it that it becomes second nature and they may feel uncomfortable without it. It can be attractive and unattractive. At Irvine Spectrum the customer base has changed and there are women completely covered including the front of their face. They get their photo taken sitting next to a fountain. It baffles me what are they taking a photo of? The person is completing hidden behind the full body robe and scarf! That to me is equally as oppressive and offensive as a scantily dressed woman! James Robert Reade

TotalKunt
TotalKunt

If you are hired at Disneyland, you must conform to the "Disney Look". There is an entire booklet on the subject given to you when you are hired. When I was hired back in 1987, I was told I would have to dye my hair all one color (my natural hair color was light brown with blonde). Even though it was my natural hair color, the Disney look specified that your hair be one color.  The funny thing was my hair would have never been seen by the public since I wore a character head. If you want to work at Disneyland, you conform to their standards (which have been in place since the park opened).

Exador
Exador

Cry me a river, baby. You signed the work agreement. She's just looking for some bucks. The ACLU quote is amazing. Comparing her to a cartoon. This guy doesn't sound smart enough to find the bathroom.

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Are ther any Muslims following this discussion?  I don't understand why the proposed alternative dress doesn't satisfy the Islamic requirement for modesty, explain, please?

raynestormrn
raynestormrn

You hear all the time of people fired for not adhering to "religious" principles when employed at a religion owned facility (i.e. school)

 

Disney is privately owned, and I'm assuming like most places that have a dress code, you sign a paper saying you understand and agree to this dress code.

 

Now I don't care what religion you are (they are all ridiculous), but if you are in a job, where the dress code runs contrary to what your religious beliefs are, then find another job if you can't compromise.  It sounds like Disney gave her many compromise options, and she wasn't willing to step down. 

 

Why did it take her a year to start wearing the hijab in public outside of work, and 2 years for her to decide she all of the sudden had to wear this head piece 24/7?  What else was going on in those years?  There's something we're not being told.  Maybe she was going for citizenship and didn't want to risk it until she had it.  I don't know.  There's more to this story.

 

The ONLY valid part I can see to this lawsuit, would be the harassment part.  If she was really harassed for her religion or race, and brought it to management, they should have put a stop to it.

 

Otherwise, from what I read, it seems the company was willing to give her options so that her religious beliefs could be honored, and she wasn't willing to meet them in the middle, and then stops showing up.

 

A privately owned company cannot discriminate in HIRING based on religion or race, among many other things, but they can has a dress code and enforce that dress code.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

Somehow the US got through 190, rose to superpower status, became the largest economy on earth, etc etc, without a significant number of Muslims. Why were immigration laws changed to encourage the influx of people so unlike us, who have nothing to do with the historic population that created the US?

 

 

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

This suit is RIDICULOUS!  Last time I checked, none of the Disney characters donned the jihad, oops, I mean hijab.  

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Make no mistake, we ARE the United States not some stuck-in-the-middle-ages (despite appearances sometimes) repressive neo-feudal society.

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

You misunderstand the law. It isn't like oh, you can't discrminate on HIRING, but once you are through the door, it's a free-fire zone.

 

I agree that there's clearly something going on with the wait two years to wear a hijab thing. Like with most people and religious expression, it probably has to do with something... hmm, RELIGIOUS? For some reason, she felt the call to wear the headcovering, which to Muslim women is an important expression of their submission to God.

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

And when the United States was a young country doing all the KickAss stuff you talk about, Guess what? Women wore headcoverings and covered up their bodies in public, and a woman out in public without a headcovering caused a scandal. I think you should be asking what caused America and Europe to abandon their modesty  traditions? Because when it comes to the 'historic population that created the US,' Muslims have more in common with them on the modesty front than today's Americans do.

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

 @20ftjesus Dude. If she was a character, then the character itself would certainly qualify as a hijab replacement.

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

Exactly. Pointing out that you are totally screwed as a non-Muslim in Saudi Arabia is the whole point of the US. There are many, many Muslims in the US who are here because of our Freedoms. You don't get to just say well hey, look at those other countries where things suck worse. We are better than that.

raynestormrn
raynestormrn

 @yoshiyahu she agreed to the dress code when she was hired.  where's the law that says that a dress code has to fit into religious beliefs?  saying, "sorry you can't wear that,  it violates dress code" is not discriminating against religion.

 

if the disney spokesman is being honest, she wasn't fired, she stopped showing up to work.  that's called quitting.  she was offered many options which would allow her to wear her hijab, or an alternative, and she quit.  i don't see the discrimination.  i see a company enforcing their dress code, while trying to give the young lady many options, and the young lady quitting then claiming discrimination.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

 @yoshiyahu Up to a point, but we were still going strong after the Flappers of the 1920 and well into the bikini and miniskirt era.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

 @boboorozco No such thing. The whole concept of "America" was invented by Europeans and Euro-Americans. 

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

 @yoshiyahu Right.   So, there's no problem if a Disney worker wants to wear a metal colander on his head, eh.

 

See Niko Alm, Pastafarian.

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

You are being serious, aren't you?

 

raynestormrn
raynestormrn

 @yoshiyahu religion trumps nothing.  if you want to work, while observing your religious needs, and not have to worry about violating a dress code (and i don't care what your religion is, they're all equally bad), then you need to work for a company that is owned by your religion.  a private company does not have to make allowances for your religious observations while you are on the clock.  they cannot discriminate in hiring you, and they cannot fire you or harass you or discriminate against you in the job because of it.  if her hijab fit with the dress code, there wouldn't be a problem.  disney used to fire people for facial hair, cause that was against their appearance code as well.

 

putting the hat over the hijab would have been to make her comply with dress code, not to "fool" people.

 

if it was a straight religion thing, and they were singling out a single religion, and allowing others free reign, i'd say she had a case.  they have a dress code in writing, she was fine with it for two years, and all of the sudden is not ok with it.  there's something fishy here.

 

she's pulling on the "woe is me, i'm so picked on" card.  there could be more to this story, and if you show me how they are singling her out BECAUSE of her religion (other than the racist and religion comments her coworkers made, which is the only valid point in this law suit), while allowing others to break dress code because of THEIR religion, then i will change my views on the validity of her law suit.   based on what is in the story, she was not fired for wearing a hijab, and they did not refuse it based on her particular religion, but based on a dress code she agreed to when hired.

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

Religious expression does include things like headscarves and kippas that sort of thing. It trumps dress code. If you are correct in your interpretation, Disney wouldn't have bothered trying to accomodate her. They would have just let her go for failing to adhere to dress code.

 

In fact, the crazy ways they tried to accomodate are kind of more damning than anything else. Oh, it's ok with US if you are Muslim. We're cool. But oh, you can't go out there in front of GUESTS like that. Our American guests are too hateful to Muslims and we'd lose them and their money.  Here. Put this stupid hat on your head. That will fool the dumb bigots. They'll never notice!

Dweezle
Dweezle

 @killian101 They DID offer her the opportunity of working in the back out of view, she passed, (perhaps she gets some tips) or was there a pay cut included in that offer?

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

HMM! That's absolutely a large part, of course -- the lifers and their esprit d'corps inspired the kids to be their best on the jobs.

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

 @mcoker I'm just keeping you on your toes buddy. 

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

 @20ftjesus There's a statement like that in a link or links to our previous coverage.

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

 @mcoker Leaving out a few details, eh.

 

""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," Brown said. "Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.""

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

 @yoshiyahu Isn't that about when they killed the union repping attractions hosts? Hmmm...

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

Oh, trust me, it isn't weight as much as it is general poor appearance, poor demeanor and horrible customer relations skills. Disney has always had people of all body types working for them, but they used to be really enthusiastic about working for Disney and behave appropriately, and I am not seeing that anymore, probably because opening Downtown Disney and CA necessitated them hiring way too many people, and they can no longer be picky. When I was going to CSUF I knew perfectly attractive and presentable folks that Disney had passed on-- that's clearly not the case today.

 

what's different with Disney World? I have never been.

 

And as to the dress code, I am not sure it matters. If it's a religious expression it's protected. It's not like she's working at Hooters or soemthing that's otherwise against her faith. This is a supposedly family friendly place, that hosts tons of Muslims a year, and if they had just let her wear the hijab, it would have been no big deal except they'd get good press, especially since Anaheim has a large Muslim population. More than an issue of her rights vs Disney rights, I think it's a matter of poor judgement by Disney.

-paulc-
-paulc-

 @yoshiyahu the problem with that argument is, Disney cannot tell a chick or dude, sorry, you're fat cant work here.  Disneyland (Funny how, at disneyworld, this wouldnt be a problem.  They'd just move her somewhere, where hijabs are common place) has very clear dress code.  She knew that going in. 

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

If you want to talk about what's 'suitable for a publicly visible Disney employee,' a hefty majority of current employees wouldn't make the cut, and that's true whether you want to slice on competence or appearance. When I worked there in the mid 80s, things had already started deteriorating, as far as employee quality, but compared to today, it was a Golden Age of quality. Anyone seriously concerned with the quality of Disney employees has a lot more important gripes than whether they have a head covering.

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

 @yoshiyahu  Because a colander, hijab, fess, or Faravahar hat are not suitable for a publicly visible Disney employee.  I certainly don't want someone dressed in a western outfit but wearing a taqiyah to guide me while touring Disneyland.  Disney tried to accommodate her to their credit.  Good show, Disney!  She's just being an ass. 

yoshiyahu
yoshiyahu

Um, dude. Pay attention. Niko Alm does not want to wear a metal colander on his head. His colander is PLASTIC.

 

And I say, sure. If that's his religion, and he wants to practice it by wearing a colander on his head, and he can do the job, fine. Wear a colander on your head. Just do your job and who cares?

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