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Disneyland worker, barred from wearing hijab scarf as restaurant hostess, files federal complaint

August 18, 2010 |  5:59 pm

A Disneyland Resort restaurant hostess filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday because she said she is not being allowed to wear her hijab in her current position.

The complaint came shortly before Imane Boudlal, 26, made a public attempt -– in front of videographers, photographers and trailing reporters -– to begin her afternoon shift at the Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel.

In a news conference immediately following, Boudlal said she was told to take off her hijab, the head scarf some Muslim women wear, or work in a position in what the resort terms "backstage."

Boudlal refused and walked out of the hotel, again flanked by media and community members, who briefly began chanting.

“I’ve been sent home,” she said. “I thought maybe today is my lucky day because I have my friends, my supporters.”

The attempt to work was her fourth – albeit the first in front of the cameras – after Boudlal began wearing the hijab to work Sunday at the cafe, where she has been a hostess for two years.

On the previous days she was also told to take the scarf off or take a job in the back, said both Boudlal and a Disneyland spokeswoman.

“She’s been allowed to work,” said spokeswoman Suzi Brown. “We’ve given her the opportunity to work in a backstage role the last several shifts that she’s come in.”

Brown said the hijab would be a departure from the costume policy for the job Boudlal has as hostess.

“It has to do with the costume; every role at Disneyland Resort has a specific costume,” she said, adding that Disneyland has a number of employees who do wear religious clothing and work behind the scenes. She could not recall whether there were any who worked directly with guests.

-- Raja Abdulrahim