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Muslim woman sues Disney over hijab

A Muslim woman who formerly worked for Disney is alleging that the company wrongfully terminated her employment agreement because of her religious beliefs and her ethnicity. The 28-year-old woman has filed a federal lawsuit because of the reported discrimination and harassment.

The woman says she was harassed and called "terrorist" because of her request to wear the traditional Islamic headscarf known as a hijab. Both supervisors and co-workers harassed her because of her race and religion, she says. The woman had been hired in 2008 to work at the Storytellers Café in the Grand Californian Hotel, according to company records. The woman was first involved in the dispute when she requested permission to wear her hijab in 2010.

When the woman approached her supervisors about wearing the hijab, they said she would have to change job positions, working in a back kitchen or other place where she could not be seen. These demands even came after the woman asked to wear a hijab that matched the uniform provided by Disney.

The woman was fired after she refused to wear a large fedora over her hijab. That happened in 2010.

Disney representatives contend that they gave the woman ample opportunities to work in positions where her hijab would be accommodated. The woman failed to respond to those opportunities, say administrators, which resulted in her firing. They say that Disney adequately accommodates people from all religious traditions.

The woman's suit includes charges that Disney violated multiple legislative statutes, including the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. She also contends that the company failed to prevent discrimination against her, and her firing was unlawful according to public policy provisions.

Media reports have not yet said how much money the woman is seeking in connection with the suit. She will ostensibly be suing for lost wages, and she might also request to be reinstated into her former job position. The case has not yet received an initial court hearing.

Source: KNX1070 radio, "Ex-Disney worker sues in fight over Muslim head scarf," staff reports, Aug. 13, 2012

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