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Disneyland allows park worker to wear religious scarf at work [Updated]

September 27, 2010 |  8:59 am

VACATION_PLANNER_full_final1 Disneyland has agreed to allow a company intern to wear her religious headscarf 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. When she arrived in California for her internship orientation, she was asked by Disney representatives 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 entire internship, according to CAIR.

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

Disney representatives could not be reached for comment Monday morning. CAIR is urging the company to implement a corporate-wide policy that protects its employees' right to wear religious attire.

[Updated at 11:13 a.m.: Suzi Brown, a spokeswoman for Disneyland Resort, said the employee would be allowed to wear a fitted blue head scarf with a beret-style hat worn 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 her head scarf, 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 organization 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 she has repeatedly been sent home without pay for refusing to remove her headscarf 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 CAIR.

[Updated at 7:32 p.m. Disney officials said they in the process of accomodating the intern's religious requirement and had already come up with a design when CAIR became involved in the case.]

-- Robert Faturechi

Illustration: Rendering of costume accommodation for Disney worker. Credit: Disneyland Resort

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