Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Two women in hijab at a Southern California picnic, June 2008
A decision by Disney to allow a female Muslim intern to wear a traditional religious head scarf, or hijab, at work could set a precedent for other Disney employees who make an argument to wear the head scarves as part of their work uniform.
According to the greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Islamic civil liberties organization, the decision involved a young woman from the Chicago area who had interviewed by phone for an internship job as a Disney vacation planner in Anaheim.
In a press release today, CAIR-LA stated that when the unidentified intern arrived in California, she was informed by her new employer that she would have to take a different position with limited guest interaction, a stockroom job, while a customized uniform was created for her. The wait for a customized uniform was five months, according to CAIR-LA, the length of her internship.
Learning about the First Amendment as she went about applying for U.S. citizenship inspired a young Muslim woman who works at Disneyland to challenge a company policy and wear her hijab to work.
Today, Imane Boudial filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging she is not allowed to wear the traditional head scarf while on the job, according to 89.3 KPCC and other news reports. Boudial has worked at the Grand Californian Hotel's Storytellers Restaurant for more than two years. More from the KPCC story:
"As long as she's been there, she took off her hijab before she went to work because it's against Disney policy,'' said Leigh Shelton, a spokeswoman for Boudlal's union, Unite Here Local 11. "But more recently she's gone through some experiences that have enlightened her a little, and she wanted to challenge the policy because it's illegal and wrong.''
Several months ago, Boudlal, who is Arab, applied for U.S. citizenship, Shelton said, adding her lessons on the First Amendment changed the way she started thinking about the issue.