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Disneyland bends on employee who wore hijab, Muslim rights group says

The woman, who had been hired as a vacation planner, will wear a company-designed head covering.

September 28, 2010|By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

Disneyland has agreed to allow an intern to wear a company-designed head covering at work, according to a Muslim rights group that intervened after the woman was told she would have to work in the stockroom.

The Chicago woman was hired as a vacation planner after a phone interview, but when she arrived at Disney for her internship orientation, company representatives asked her why she had not mentioned her hijab, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The woman was told she would have to take a position with less guest interaction, working in the stockroom until a "customized uniform" could be made, according to the group.

She was told that making the customized uniform would take about five months, approximately the length of her internship, the group said.

The group intervened, and after a week Disney agreed to accommodate the woman in her original position as a vacation planner, it said.

Suzi Brown, a spokeswoman for Disneyland Resort, said the employee is being allowed to wear a fitted blue head scarf with a beret-style hat over it.

Vacation planners are costumed employees, whose outfits include an optional baseball-style cap. Unlike other employees, the worker in question will not have the option to take off her hat while wearing the scarf-type covering, Brown said. Vacation planners sell tickets in a box office.

"Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a long history of accommodating a variety of religious requests from cast members of all faiths with more than 200 accommodations made over the last three years," Brown said. "And this instance was no different."

The American-Islamic group has received other complaints over the years from Muslim women who said they have been denied "front-stage jobs" with Disney because of their hijabs.

A Muslim woman who works as a hostess at a Disney-owned restaurant filed a discrimination complaint earlier this year, saying that she had repeatedly been sent home without pay for refusing to remove her head scarf at work.

Imane Boudlal, a hostess at Storyteller's Cafe in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, said she was told she would have to remove her hijab or take a job working out of public view.

That case is ongoing, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

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