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Disneyland faces religious discrimination lawsuit

A Muslim worker recently filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Disneyland, claiming that she was routinely taunted and called a "terrorist" and a "camel" by her co-workers and, although she complained to supervisors, the park and resort did nothing.

The Moroccan-born female employee had only worked at the Anaheim resort for a few months in 2008 before the problems began. She says that she was harassed by co-workers about her religious beliefs and country of origin. Despite verbal and written complaints to Disneyland managers, things did not improve.

She continued working in this hostile work environment until she was fired two years later because she refused to remove her head scarf, known as a hijab.

When she was first hired she was not wearing a hijab. However, she decided she would wear it full time beginning in 2010, eight months before she was fired.

In her defense, she says she contacted her supervisors hoping for an exemption to the California company's dress code. Though it took weeks of discussions and the Disney corporate office did not yet grant final approval, she says she did receive preliminary approval to wear a Disney-designed scarf.

In the meantime, during the Muslim holy days of Ramadan, she felt obligated to wear her hijab to work in recognition of the holy days.

She was told to remove the scarf, cover it with a hat or work in a job out of the public's view. She refused and was then fired. She then decided to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

By filing this recent lawsuit, the employee is seeking damages for the harassment and discrimination she suffered while working for Disney, as well as training for Disney employees.

Most importantly, by filing the lawsuit she is hoping to gain a victory for all female Muslim employees of Disneyland so that they can wear the hijab in positions in the public's view without the interference or harassment.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Woman's lawsuit accuses Disneyland of bias," Kate Mather, Aug. 14, 2012

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