See the update at the end of this post on two of the incidents involving Irvine's Boomers! and the company's response.
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 29, 7:03 A.M.: The refusal of Boomers! amusement parks to allow religious head coverings on attendees who want to ride go-karts is spurring multiple complaints to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, it will be announced this morning at the offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Anaheim and Santa Clara.
The complaints allege Boomers!, a subsidiary of Palace Entertainment Holdings, is violating California's Unruh Civil Rights Act with the policy against head coverings. Joining CAIR in lodging the complaints is United Sikhs.
They claim Muslim and Sikh park attendees have repeatedly been denied access to the go-kart rides and that the company has cited "unfounded safety concerns" and "been unwilling to provide any accommodation, thereby effectively banning thousands of local residents from riding the Go-Karts solely based on their faith."
"Companies cannot utilize baseless safety concerns to discriminate against thousands of people," says CAIR-Northern California Civil Rights Coordinator Brice Hamack in the release. "It troubles us that every other amusement park is able to make sufficient accommodations to permit women wearing hijabs to ride some of the fastest roller coasters in the world, but that Boomers! has unequivocally denied them access to the go-kart rides."
"Boomers! has failed to provide any clear or sensible reasoning for denying individuals with religious headwear requirements access to go-karts," adds United Sikhs Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh. "To deny people their religious liberties on unfounded fears is something that cannot and should not be tolerated in today's day and age."
Palace Entertainment officials could not be reached at press time.
UPDATE, APRIL 29, 4:04 P.M.: Most of the complaints against Boomers! involve amusement parks in Northern California, but two incidents have been reported from the Irvine location, Sammar Miqbel, CAIR-LA's civil rights coordinator, said at a press conference today.
First, after waiting a half hour in line for the go-kart on March 17, 2013, the four daughters and two sons of two women who went to the Boomers in Irvine "were not allowed to ride on the go-kart with a scarf around the neck," charged Miqbel, adding the children tried but failed to assure the employee that they had never had a problem before riding while wearing their religious headdress.
In June of that same year, Muslim girls on a field trip from a local elementary school were told at the Irvine location they could not wear hijabs on the go-karts, alleged Miqbel, who added CAIR-LA has not been able to resolve the issue with Palace Entertainment.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Michele Wischmeyer, vice president of marketing and sales with the Newport Beach-based company, told City News Service today, "It is a matter of safety, and we ask that all head wear be removed. It doesn't matter if it's religious headwear or a wig or a baseball cap or visor or scarf or bandana."
She added her company's website carries a warning that head gear and long hair can get tangled up in the wheels of the go-karts.
"Our stance is safety is our No. 1 priority," Wischmeyer said. "It is not a matter of race or religion. It's a matter of safety."