Muslim cast member rejects Disney-designed headscarf as "offensive"
by, 08-23-2010 at 10:40 AM (4930 Views)
Imane Boudlal, a hostess at Storytellers Cafe in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, is back in the news today after refusing to don a Disney-designed substitute for her hijab.
Last week Boudlal held a press conference to announce she has filed a discrimination complaint against Disney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that Disney sent her home from work for wearing the traditional head covering worn by some Muslim women. Boudlal, who has worked for the theme park for 2 1/2 years, only recently requested a "religious exemption" to Disney's notoriously strict dress code so she could wear the hijab.
Boudlal is a member of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hotel union that has been at the center of a long-standing contract dispute with the Disneyland Resort. The union issued a press release this morning with a photo of the Disney-designed headwear, and quote Boudlal as saying the accomodation offered is "offensive." According to the statement, "Boudlal said she found the hat embarrassing, especially because she would be the only restaurant employee forced to wear it," and claims that the headcovering does not meet her religious needs.
Photo provided by Unite HERE Local 11
Disneyland Resort spokesperson Suzi Brown issued a statement this morning, saying
"We provided Ms. Boudlal with several options, including a modified costume that includes a blouse with a higher neckline and a newly designed head covering that meets our costuming guidelines and which we believe provides a reasonable accommodation of Ms. Boudlalís religious beliefs. We also provided four different roles that she could transition to that would allow her to wear her own hijab. Despite the fact that she has rejected the multiple options we offered, we are continuing to try to meet her accommodation request.The controversy has made international news, and Boudlal appeared on CNN this weekend to discuss her suit.
Disney is an entertainment company ó our theme parks and resorts are the stage and our costumed cast members are an important part of the show. When cast members are hired, regardless of their diverse beliefs, the expectation to comply with our appearance guidelines is made abundantly clear."
Disney's dress code, called the "Disney Look," dictates everything from footwear, jewelry and makeup to the length and color of a worker's hair and fingernails, and even the cut and color of undergarments. The policy states, "Choices in appearance that do not support that role are unacceptable." The guidelines contained in the Look Book also restrict cast members from wearing turbans, yarmulkes or necklaces with crosses, or displaying religious tattoos.