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August 23rd, 2010
10:41 AM ET

Muslim woman suing Disney

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: California • Culture & Science • Islam • Muslim • United States • Women

soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. s

    Freedom of religion, you have a right to wear a scarf. Right to work, your employer has the right to fire you for not meeting their dress code. Difficult to live in a country where everyone has rights. Even if you don't like them.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Agathe

    Her lawyer is a dimwit for sure or so desperate for work or 15 minutes of fame. I sincerely hope that her lawsuit would be thrown out as frivolous which what it is. Lawyers should be penalized and jailed for filing stupid and no merit lawsuits.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  3. Mike

    Disney has a right to have a dress code for its characters, just like a director of an old western movie would have the right to not cast an actress if she insists on a wearing a burqa on screen.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  4. Geez

    Can't they find a character from Aladdin for her to play. Win win!

    August 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
    • herry

      good one...

      August 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  5. Oakspar77777

    Disney does have a very rigid dress code for all of its "characters" (which is the title that all of their employees have). In fact, D calls them characters because every one of them is part of the "show" reguardless if they are in a suit or just sweeping up the trash. There is a fantasy vision, and individuality is not allowed to besmirch that vision.

    How would you feel if you went to see "Lord of the Rings" at the theatre and one of the Orcs was in a headdress and veil because of the actor's religion – ridiculous, right?

    She has, after two years, forgotten that she was not hired to do a job and be herself. Rather, she was hired to play a character that does a job – not unlike the actors who do real jobs in historical recreations (like Willimsburg – also, no colonist there in arab garb either).

    Finally, for someone fighting for a garb that is to conceal for modesty and humility, she seems to have no problem putting her face up for all the world to see on TV and asserting that her beliefs are the right and true Islam (when many in the faith would decry her inmodesty on the air). If it is just the culture, but not the faith – well, I think Disney lets Jasmine walk around with a veil – start the diet now (I hear its a good month for things like that).

    August 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  6. Colin in Florida

    Disney is correct here. Disney considers employees who work in front of the public as 'cast members' and always have. In fact, the employment office is called central casting.

    Entertainment companies are exempt from a lot of the rules of employment, for a multitude of reasons. If Disney wanted a cast member to play Abraham Lincoln, they would (obviously) look for a tall, white male actor, and preferably one who could do a midwestern accent. Obviously, a hispanic midget female (as extreme example) would not be believable as Lincoln. Yet if entertainment companies were not allowed exemptions, if the most qualified actor was that hispanic female midget (say they were the only formally trained actor who applied) , they would be FORCED TO HIRE THAT PERSON.

    The same applies to ADA requirements (like wheelchairs, crutches, etc.)

    Thus, if as an entertainment company Disney says that you will wear a costume, then you will wear a costume.

    I believe what's happening is that she has lived here long enough now to learn how to hire lawyers to get money from a big, rich corporation for nothing but raising a stink as a persecuted minority for 'practicing' her religion.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  7. Partha

    There is no federal or state laws.. Companies can mandate a dress code.. the CNN guy tells her he himself follows a dress code. The fact that she signed up for the job knowing exactly what Disney's dress code was.. and now all of a sudden chooses to "express her faith" in violation of the policy she signed up for before.. speaks volumes.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • gillyzmama

      Disneyland has maintained a dress code for "onstage castmembers" since 1957. There have been changes in the 53 years, but ALL employees are told up front and are required to sign paperwork stating they will abide by the dress code, and if for some reason they can't, then they are offered "backstage" positions until they can either work something out, or rectify the situation.

      Ms Boudlal has been an employee for 2 years, signed the paperwork and now feels that the dress code discriminates against her religion. Obviously, Ms Boudlal is unaware that other employees who are devout in their various faiths are not able to wear clothing, jewelry, pins etc, or she doesn't care about them. In fact, she was heard in an interview to comment about this very same thing, to say that "I'm here to talk about me".

      The fact is, she has refused to work in a backstage role, she has refused to wear the Disney themed alternatives to her hijab, she is determined to wear only HER hijab. An employer is allowed to require a dress code for its employees, and if the employee doesn't like it, they can either comply, or quit. Disney has made reasonable offers, yet she has repeatedly walked off the job. Disney has not terminated her employment, but are still continuing to trying to reach a compromise. Today, she refused a modified hat/bonnet that would fit in with her themed area.

      Why should Disney change their policy? They are an entertainment industry, the employees that work "onstage" are called "castmembers", are taught in the Disney University that they are playing a "role" in the "show". The "guest experience" is paramount, and the idea that Walt had so many years ago was to make Disneyland a place where the troubles of daily life, the world, etc would not interfere with the guest's experience and enjoyment, hence the dress code.

      And yes, I'm a former Disney castmember.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:37 am |
  8. Michael

    Seriously Timothy!? Really? C'mon now!

    August 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  9. Timothy from Virginia

    Company policy does not overrule, Federal or State laws. She was right for deciding to wear it, I respect her for challenging company policy.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • Lori M

      Way to go, Timothy.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • Agathe

      Timothy from Virginia,
      I think that your respect is ill placed and misguided. Yes you have the right to challenge an unjust policy but you abuse the legal system when you knowingly use it to make a "religious" point. I believe in freedom of religion but by the same token I believe religion belongs at home and church, mosque, temple, ... I have nothing against the hijab itself but if I go to Disney I don't want to see anything but make believe characters.
      She is the kind of Muslim that gives Muslims in general a bad reputation.

      August 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Which Federal and State law is this you speak of?

      August 23, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • sick and tired

      take off that silly hat and get back to work, or find a job elsewhere.

      August 23, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Fatmeh

      well said, its merely a peice of cloth

      August 24, 2010 at 4:57 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Agathe

      You said, "I believe in freedom of religion but by the same token I believe religion belongs at home and church, mosque, temple, ... "

      You brought a tear to my eye and blessed my heart. Thank you.

      You said, "I don't want to see anything but make believe characters."

      You know, I have seen similar comments from the Christian fundies. LOL

      She is the kind of Muslim that gives Muslims in general a bad reputation.

      Ah...and you are her judge? Only Allah can judge. Allahu Akbar
      There was an article recently, about a boy who refused to take off a cross in school. The comments were mostly something like, "You can't make him take his cross off. He loves the baby Jesus". The fundies were provoked! I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored.

      Anyway, the court ruled the school did not have the right to forbid the cross.

      This woman loves Allah. You could put Disney characters on the hijab.

      August 24, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • Vincent

      The problem that I see with that is that SHE signed a "Contract" to adhere with Disney's dress code. PLAIN & SIMPLE. If she didn't agree with that contract well then she should not have signed. There are thousands of other wgho would love to have her job.

      August 25, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  10. Partha

    Of course the company's dress code is discriminatory.. duh!!.. it is Disneyland for chrissake!! remember the place where people dress up as popular disney characters that are loved by millions and that millions pay for to visit and see?

    We don't know if these girl was to be employed as a character though.. or was it for administrative purposes (sitting inside a building)..or one of the workers in disneyland who wear uniforms and tend to the lines etc..

    In any case a private organization has the right to stipulate dress codes on it's employees.. Period!

    If you don't like it.. move on.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • fairplay

      She will move on. But she wants to get paid off first. Mickey has lots of money, says Allah.

      August 23, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
    • Diane

      "fairplay" has it right....it's all about the money. Now that she's "legal" she wants to jump on the first gravy train rolling out of the station...sueing the happiest place on earth could really be a windfall for her! Makes me sick!!!

      August 26, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  11. Enough is enough

    This is just another sick publicity stunt posing as "religious freedom". She worked there for 2 full years and never work a niqab. Seriously, do we 'really' want to see Disney employees wearing Niqabs and Burkas? No thanks. If I take my kids to Disneyland the only costume I want to see on female employees is something 'Snow White'. Anything else is just force-feeding someone's religious beliefs in mine and my kid's faces. Work at someplace like Disney? Leave the Islamic garb at home or don't take the job.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Maria

    This is pretty much what is happening throughout western Europe. You let them in, accomodate them, and little by little they start imposing their wills and wants and demand changes. We have in America what, around 1% population muslims. Can you even begin to comprehend how demanding they will be when they reach 5-10%? Personally, I trully believe this is another example of what they themselves, from muslim leaders to taxi drivers state that their goal is to islamisize the world, and to get there they're going to take advantage of the western societies bill of rights and freedoms. If you don't agree, don't waste your time arguing with me just for the sake of having the last word, I sugest you go inform yourself. The Internet is filled with true!!! stories, actual!!! videos, and real!!! testminoies. Those should be sufficient to learn the truth about islam and muslims worldwide. Then I never ever understand why in a million years one would migrate to a country where belief is different, songs are different, food is different, color skin is different, religion is different, absolutely everyting is different than who you are and do, you are aware that you will be in the minotity (which btw must be feeling very uncomfortable!!!), and then you go around demanding special treatment.

    August 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  13. Doug

    She came to America to be an Amereican. If she doesn't like the American way she can go back to whatever desert she came from...

    August 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • temitayo

      how do you know that she was not born in America?

      August 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • Kate

      Disney is not *the* American Way ... I realize that might be considered heresy by many, and I'm sorry to have to be the bringer of reality dashing the fantasies, hopes and dreams of uncounted hordes, but it's true.

      August 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • Partha

      ""how do you know that she was not born in America?""

      she says so in the video.. listen to it before you comment. She started wearing the Hijab soon after getting her citizenship.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • Lori M

      It's quite possible a lawsuit, or constitutional protection, was unavailable to her until she became a naturalized citizen. The part of the constitution she is reading is called THE BILL OF RIGHTS by most people – and it includes the freedom of religion. Then there are the later amendments that disallows discrimination based on religion, gender, age or disability. She's right and she's Muslim. Oh, and she's American.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • RENEE

      lol

      August 23, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • Richard

      What a profound reason.

      August 23, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • Fatmeh

      so what ur saying is we shud all assimilate our cultures to be one?
      dont diesny movies teach u to go with what ur heart says?
      well her heart tells her that this is the right religion.. and she wants to practice that religion.. while still being able to support her family..
      big deal?

      August 24, 2010 at 4:41 am |
  14. Reality

    The only solution to the Muslim co-mmunity's identi-ty and clothing woes is to delete all the offensive passages in the Koran e.g. those passages that call for world and female domination by Muslim males

    August 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • Kate

      @Reality

      Do you have original thoughts, or do you just have a cut and paste thing going?

      August 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • Reality

      Kate,

      Reiteration is a tool of education. Simply skip any information that you have previously absorbed.

      August 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  15. Reality

    The only solution to the Muslim co-mm-unity's identity and clothing woes is to delete all the offensive passages in the Koran e.g. those passages that call for world and female do-min-ation by Muslim males.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  16. T from Texas

    This is just a start. Wake up people, the Muslims are taking over. That is their goal and eventually they will succeed. I'm not a fanatic, but I choose not to sit with my head up in the clouds. Look at the UK. It's been taken over and the U.S. is next. We have to put our foot down or else they will "it's in the constitution-freedom of religion-freedom of speech" us out of our own country. She's worked there 2 years and suddenly she wants to force the issue. I give it about 2-3 generations and they will have the last laugh. Go ahead courts award her millions of dollars. Maybe she can use it to fund a terrorist group or something.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  17. ckskrk

    She is just selfish and ridiculous. Why did she agree to work for 2 years without hijab? Because of people like her makes the other religion think Islam is illogical and stupid religion. Hijab Lady think for a while and see for yourself if what you are asking is logical or not. For me you are just out of your mind. You have every right to wear it and be what you want but you cannot impose or force somebody to like/give what you want. If you are a peace loving person then you should just get out your current job and just go and find a job who will allow you to wear hijab. There are lot of organizations who would allow you to wear hijab. Do not make other religion think Islam as extremism and fanaticism.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Lori M

      It's quite possible a lawsuit, or constitutional protection, was unavailable to her until she became a naturalized citizen. The part of the constitution she is reading is called THE BILL OF RIGHTS by most people – and it includes the freedom of religion. Then there are the later amendments that disallows discrimination based on religion, gender, age or disability. She's right and she's Muslim.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  18. Mike

    The fact that she was able to work 2 years with out the head dress makes me wonder why she only inforced her beliefs after becoming a citizen and was willing to forego her beliefs to pursue her citizenship.

    Also what part of the const-itution was she reading?

    August 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • Lori M

      It's quite possible a lawsuit, or constitutional protection, was unavailable to her until she became a naturalized citizen. The part of the constitution she is reading is called THE BILL OF RIGHTS by most people – and it includes the freedom of religion. Then there are the later amendments that disallows discrimination based on religion, gender, age or disability. She's right and she's Muslim. Hate that don't you?

      August 23, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      The time line of events does sound underhanded.

      August 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • Liberty

      It would be good to know who her handlers are.

      August 23, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  19. Frank

    I say, she needs to find a different job. Disney does pretty well on explain things detail by detail.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  20. Kate

    I think she's wrong.

    She made the choice to wear hijab, and that *is* her choice that she should have. But she doesn't have the right to force her choice onto Disney, which filing a lawsuit essentially is.

    If Disney had accommodated her voluntarily, that would have been one thing. But going through the courts makes it her "forcing" her private belief onto Disney.

    She should have looked to find a job in a place where the hijab would be welcomed instead. In that, it's no different than pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for morning-after pills. Your faith is your faith, but if your faith interferes with doing your job, find another job – not force the job to fit your faith.

    Having said all that however – What "character" does she play? By the looks of the filler video, she's a receptionist at a hotel or visitor's center or something – it's not like she's going around as Minnie Mouse and demanding Minnie wear a hijab. Are *all* employees, even not costumed, playing characters at Disney? That would explain why Disney has a bad reputation for employing people with disabilities – can't have Snow White in a wheelchair now can we?

    It might just be that Disney actually does live in Disneyland – In which case they have problems way beyond this!

    August 23, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • peace2all

      @Kate

      Hi Kate.... Hope you are well.....

      Your posting, in my opinion, was very well said....

      Peace....

      August 23, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • David Johnson

      You said, "That would explain why Disney has a bad reputation for employing people with disabilities – can't have Snow White in a wheelchair now can we?"

      Sure we can. It is make believe. If my daughter was in a wheelchair, I would like her to see a Snow White with her disability. Or is a child in a wheelchair not allowed to dream?

      August 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • peace2all

      We can... and should have people with disabilities working at Disney.... but the point being, it will probably be a slow process.

      ALL kids should be allowed to dream....

      Peace....

      August 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bob

      @David Johnson Usually I agree with you, but not in this case. Specifically, companies are allowed to reject hiring people if the position relates to image. It happens in Holywood, it happens at Hooters, it happens at modeling companies. These aren't discriminatory. For companies like Disney, they do have a very real interest in putting forth a specific image. I'm sorry, but if you don't fit the bill, you're not hired. If that wasn't enough, you also have to understand that the Hijab is a religious symbol, that is to say, indicating the person's faith. Disney probably also has a vested interest in keeping their parks "religion neutral".

      August 23, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • Lori M

      Kate, we do have freedom of religion – even in the workplace. It's not separate from the country as a whole. Even Christian churches can't require their workers be of their faith to get hired – freedom of religion. It's a basic concept of our country. If they don't like the Muslim dress code, too bad. They don't have the "freedom" to discriminate based on religion anymore than they do on gender, age or disability. If she can do the job, the rest is not their business – it's her freedom.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Matt

      @Lori M: Of course you are wrong.

      Christian churches can and do require that some employees be of the same faith to get hired. It depends on the job.

      This is not a religious discrimination issue at all. It is merely a dress code issue.

      August 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • RENEE

      I agree^^

      August 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Anna

      This woman signed a contract. So when she needed money she was ready to do whatever. Now that she has the job, she thinks that she can impose her views on others.

      When you go to a Muslim country, Westerners have to respect the muslim countries' laws and traditions, including their clothing. But for some reason they do not feel like they have to respect the tradition of the Western world, where women do not cover their body and faces.

      August 23, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • Peggiesue

      From my readings, the Hijab is NOT a religious requirement. It is a cultural choice. The woman is wrong to sue Disney or demand they oblige her in any way. She became a citizen of the U.S., then live in the American Culture instead of trying to make the U.S./Disney a Muslim culture. She is free to wear her Hijab when not at work. When at work, she, like everyone else there, must adhere to the dress code.

      August 23, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • Nacho1

      She is not only wrong....she is obnoxious......our dress codes here should never be changed because of a visitor or because of a naturalized citizen............Disney has all the right in the world to deny her dress code.......this is private enterprise and this is America......if you don't like it....leave it!

      August 23, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • fairplay

      Kate, well said. All I can add is OMG!!!

      August 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • Mearder

      Shut up Kate
      Kate i guess since you re so tolerant you should move to Iran
      Muslims dressed up for Halloween all year round
      Religion is RELIGULOUS

      August 23, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
    • Kate

      @Mearder

      You know, you'd probably not look quite so silly if you'd posted that on the other thread instead of one where I was saying she *shouldn't* be wearing hijab.

      Hope you didn't dislocate your knee with that spasm there ...

      Just sayin'

      August 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • AmericanPatriot

      The only way a woman can guarantee her passage into Paradise is if her husband is happy with her when she dies. When I read about this one, I thought, "Mohammad, you are a crafty one."

      This idea obviously helps with the subjugation of women. It gives her a strong incentive to subordinate her wishes to her husband's, because while she might have a chance to get into Paradise if she's a good Muslim, the only way she can guarantee she will go to Paradise (and avoid eternal suffering in hell) is to make sure her husband is happy with her when she dies.

      August 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
    • Ivory

      @kate
      The role she is playing is that of an employee... She has to dress and act the part regardless of her beliefs. Every American has freedom of religion but not in the workplace. Having a job is a privilege. She is being payed to be there so she should show her appreciation by simply following the rules. Disney has every right to "discriminate" against any piece of attire they choose. Religion is not a factor here. Its a clear case of insubordination and she should lose her job. Then we'll see how important her "hijab" really is

      August 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
    • Corey

      @Kate Generally speaking, employers are required to accommodate *reasonable* requests in these kinds of matters. I think wearing hijab is certainly reasonable. Usually reasonable is determined if the effort the employer would make would cause undue expense such as work stoppages.

      August 23, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
    • Mom of Three

      When you work at Disneyland, regardless of your position, as soon as you step in front of the doors that lead from the underground complex where the employees gather, to the park, then you are a cast member, period. You are on stage. And that means you wear whichever costume they deem appropriate, whether it's a striped blouse in the Carnation shop, or a blazer as a receptionist. No piercings, no visible tattoos, the list goes on for days. No yarmulkes, no Viking helmets for crying out loud. It's bad enough to see these misogynists hauling their six wives cloaked in black around the park as guests, I don't blame them for at least trying to keep the fantasy alive when it comes to their employees.

      August 24, 2010 at 3:33 am |
    • BobbyG

      Bottom line is Disney is in the entertainment business. Everything they do, wear, say, etc...at Disneyland and Disneyworld is scripted and is part of the "show". It's clearly stated in black and white in her contract that she had to look a certain way despite her religious beliefs. I'm a police officer who has to abide by certain rules and regulations regarding my appearance. Failure to do so will earn me repremands, suspensions, and eventually termination. That was made very much aware to me on my date of hire. If she had worn that scarf to her interview at Disney, they probably would have given her the "Thank You, We'll be in touch", speech. When they look for actors and actresses for movie and tv roles, they don't look for the best person for the job. They have a specific person in mind when selecting and physical beauty is a big key (unless the role requires and unattractive person). I think that Disney made it perfectly clear what their requirements were for the position and she breeched contract. Case closed, Fire her. As for the handicapped, nothing would please me more than to make the dreams and wishes of the unfortunate come true, however, Disney has their own dream of how Disneyland and Disneyworld should look and operate and I believe they should have the right to hire who they feel will make that happen.

      August 24, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
    • Paul

      I agree that she chose to wear her whatever you call it. Jihad or hijab. Whatever!!! She is bringing religion into something that is about family and bringing them together not by pushing muslim rights!!! Now that this Mosque is about to be built they think that everything is about islam. It is not. We are not about to push religion in the face of all who visit!!! Especially one that brought America down to where it is now! Walt Disney created an all American park with themes that invite all without religious rights brought into the picture. No islam! Never ever ever!!!!! This religion has really upset Americans. I hope Disneyland creates a new hiring process that explains that the company is in the business of entertainment and not display of belief!!!!

      August 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • Sean

      This muslim girl should go back to muslimland where there mouse wears burka and stoning is an e-ticket attraction!!!! Can you believe that they still stone people to death in Iran? How primitive!!!! They are all animals and God would never approve of such behavior!!!

      August 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
    • Tiffany

      I agree with you 100%!!

      September 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • shadiaya

      please people get a life first of all if this is true Disney world will never see my money again and if it was ok for this sister to wear her head cover two years ago what the change? DIsney may have a lot of people but they should dont have all the power. grow up

      September 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.