Arts & Entertainment

Muslim restaurant hostess sues Disneyland for discrimination

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A little controversy at the happiest place on Earth - a Muslim woman has filed a discrimination complaint against Disneyland. She works as a hostess at a hotel restaurant at Disneyland. This week she wanted to wear a head covering. But she says her boss sent her home without pay several days because she refused to remove the hijab.

Disney officials say if she wants to wear the head scarf, she has to take a job out of public view in what Disney calls a "backstage role."

Imane Boudlal is a U.S. citizen from Morocco. She says she went through the corporate office for the last couple of months trying to get a formal approval to wear the hijab.

She says the costume department at Disney even fitted her for a head scarf. But she says the company hasn’t given final approval to wear the head covering. She balked at the suggestion she work out of public view.

An employer is allowed to establish an employee dress code and is also obligated to attempt to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs, said Steve Kaplan, labor employment lawyer and former chair of L.A. County Bar’s labor and employment section, said on Larry Mantle's AirTalk today.

"If the wearing of a head scarf is part of a sincerely held religious belief, the employer will have an obligation to at least consider accommodating that employee's religious practice. The real question is whether or not the employee's request causes some kind of undue hardship on the employer."

[Audio: KPCC’s Shirley Jahad went to the Grand California Hotel and talked with Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown.]