Imane Boudlal, Disney Worker Who Sparked Hijab Flap, Rejects New Company Compromise

Imane Boudlal, who has repeatedly defied orders against wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf on the job as an Anaheim Disney Resort restaurant hostess, calls the company's latest attempt at a compromise "offensive."

After the jump, see how Boudlal would like to appear at her public work station versus the proposal her employee union claims Disney officials came up with to accommodate her religious beliefs.

Imane Boudlal, Disney Worker Who Sparked Hijab Flap, Rejects New Company Compromise
Courtesy of UNITE HERE Local 11

According to a release this morning from UNITE HERE Local 11, Boudlal has been offered to wear a hat on top of a bonnet in place of her traditional white head scarf known as a hijab, which company officials complain does not fit "the Disney loook."

Boudlal works as a hostess in Storytellers Restaurant within the Grand Californian Hotel overlooking Disney's California Adventure theme park. She has now been sent home seven times without pay due to showing up to her job wearing her hijab.

The company and Boudlal have previously said the company first offered to accommodate her wishes to wear the hijab, particularly during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, by putting her in a position out of public view. In Disneyspeak, this is known as "back stage" and what she wears is a "costume," as every employee--from the little people in Mickey Mouse outfits to bus boys in restaurants--are part of the day's "performance."

A company official told the Weekly last week that "reasonable accommodations" have been offered to Boudlal. UNITE HERE Local 11, which is involved in protracted contract negotiations with Disney, apparently disagrees.

"After trying on the new uniform, Boudlal told her managers it does not meet her religious needs," report union officials. "Boudlal said she found the hat embarrassing, especially because she would be the only restaurant employee forced to wear it."

"The hat makes a joke of me and my religion, and draws even more attention to me," Boudlal say in the same UNITE HERE statement. "It's unacceptable. They don't want me to look Muslim. They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."

Boudlal says she requested a religious accommodation to the company's dress code two months and, due to what she considers inaction by Disney, she came to work on Aug. 15 wearing her hijab. She says she was told she would have to remove the head scarf if she wanted to continue working as a hostess.

"I don't understand why I cannot wear my white scarf that already matches my restaurant uniform, and be left to do my job," says Boudlal, who last week filed a discrimination complaint against Disney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "My scarf doesn't do anything to harm Disney or the guests."


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