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Ex-Disney Worker Sues In Fight Over Muslim Head Scarf

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An ex-Disney employee on Monday filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer alleging she was discriminated against and harassed because of her Islamic beliefs.

KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports Imane Boudlal alleges she was subjected to ethnic insults such as “terrorist” and others by co-workers and supervisors.

Boudlal, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in Morocco, began working at the Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian hotel in April 2008.

She said she first got into a dispute with her supervisors in 2010 when she asked to wear a hijab, or head scarf traditionally worn by Muslim women, at work.

“I’m bringing a lawsuit today against the Walt Disney company because I was discriminated against due to my origin, my religion, and my race,” said Boudlal, who was flanked by representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The 28-page complaint (PDF) seeks damages on seven counts against The Walt Disney Company, including violations of the California Fair Employment And Housing Act, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

Boudlal offered to wear a hijab bearing colors matching her uniform or with a Disney logo, but her bosses instead suggested she work in a back area out of sight of restaurant patrons, her court papers state.

She was fired in August of 2010 after refusing a compromise to wear a large fedora-type hat on top of her hijab.

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said Buodlad was given “multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab”.

“Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work,” she added.

Brown also noted that “Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a long history of accommodating a variety of religious requests from cast members of all faiths”.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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