Disneyland hostess banned from wearing hijab
Forbidden her hijab in the Magic Kingdom, waitress Imane Boudlal has been given a trilby hat instead
Disney is facing controversy after a Muslim hotel employee was refused permission to wear her hijab – a form of headscarf which leaves her whole face exposed – and given an "offensive" trilby hat to wear instead. Imane Boudlal, who works as a restaurant 'hostess' meeting and greeting customers in Disneyland's Grand Californian Hotel, says Disney is discriminating against her religion.
Boudlal (above, left), a Moroccan immigrant who is now a US citizen, last week started proceedings against the entertainment empire with the US Equal Opportunity Commission. She claims she was sent home from work seven times without pay after she turned up at the Magic Kingdom wearing her scarf – and says this amounts to religious discrimination.
Disney admits it has refused Boudlal permission to wear the hijab at work, saying it has a strict uniform policy. "Somebody in an on-stage position like hers wouldn't wear something like that, that's not part of the costume," said spokeswoman Suzi Brown, referring to the fact that Boudlal’s job is in a front-of-house role interacting with customers.
Brown added that the company had offered Boudlal a different, back-of-house position where she would be able to wear the scarf. But she said Boudlal had refused to switch to kitchen work and Disney was instead offering a compromise uniform.
Now Boudlal says Disney's suggested alternative to her hijab - a preposterous-looking combination of bonnet and trilby hat (above, right) - is offensive. "The hat makes a joke of my religion and draws even more attention to me," she said
The 26-year-old added: "It's unacceptable. They don't want me to look Muslim. They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."
Stinging from the appalling PR it has brought on itself, Disney blamed Boudlal’s union, Unite Here Local 11, with whom it has a long-standing dispute. "Unfortunately, this is yet another attempt by Local 11 to distort the facts and distract from the real issue that their members have been without a contract for two and a half years,'' said Brown. ·
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