Suit says Disney fired woman for wearing Muslim scarf at wor

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Suit says Disney fired woman for wearing Muslim scarf at wor

Post by CujoSR » Sat May 22, 2004 1:17 am

From: Herald.comAssociated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. - Wearing a Muslim hijab, or head scarf, cost a Moroccan native both her jobs at Walt Disney World, the woman says in a lawsuit.

"To stop you from working for practicing your religion doesn't seem right to me," Aicha Baha said Friday, several days after her civil rights suit was served on the company. "There is a family here that is almost out on the street because of Disney."

Disney policy generally prohibits any headwear but Disney-issued hats and visors.

Disney spokeswoman Veronica Clemons said exceptions to the dress code for religious reasons are made on a case-by-case basis. "We do have cast members who have attire significant to their religions," she said.

Disney policy prohibits discussion of lawsuits, she told the Orlando Sentinel.

Baha, 32, worked at Walt Disney World from 1997 until mid-August 2002 and wore uniforms in her jobs as a part-time bellhop and a full-time sales clerk at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, according to interviews and the lawsuit she filed last week in federal court in Orlando.

She did not wear the hijab during that time, but started after she took maternity leave in 2002. She said her faith grew during that time, and she decided to wear the scarf.

"It wasn't something just for fun," she said. "It's like God is asking you to do it."

When she returned to her two jobs, she wore the scarf but her supervisors balked, she said.

Disney offered to accommodate her religious attire with a job out of the public view, the lawsuit states.

The Pearl Factory at the resort also let Baha continue wearing her scarf but transferred her from Disney property to a Disney-owned shop on U.S. 192, where dress codes didn't apply, she said.

She quit when her sales commissions fell from $400 to $700 a week to $40 a week at the new shop, and Disney fired her from the part-time post because she refused to remove the scarf, the suit says.


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Post by CujoSR » Sat May 22, 2004 1:18 am

Should religious attire be allowed to be worn when working at a theme park? Discuss.


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Post by Zazu » Sat May 22, 2004 8:15 am

CujoSR wrote:Should religious attire be allowed to be worn when working at a theme park? Discuss.
Only up to the point where it interferes with the show.

I'm of the opinion that the best show occurs when Cast Members look the part they are playing. Not to sound chauvinistic, but I still think it inappropriate for women to serve as locomotive engineers, for example (depsite their doing a great job otherwise).

I think Disney should have offered her a position at Morrocco or Adventureland where the hijab could have been blended into the theme, rather than a backstage role. But that said, she should have expected termination when she refused to abide by the dress code that is so clearly explained.

I think many of the problems like this can best be addressed by looking at what it is we're trying to accomplish -- the creation of a great show. This makes frontline cast roles more than just another McJob (despite the pay), it makes them a performance. Part of that performance is looking the part, and that extends beyond just wearing the costume pieces.

I'm sorry she had to choose between faith and employment, and that Disney couldn't find her a satisfactory role that would have permitted a compromise. Sometimes though, you have to make sacrifices for your faith -- and that's not an appropriate justification for a lawsuit.


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Post by Ottar » Sat May 22, 2004 8:36 am

I completely agree with Zazu.
At DLP I knew (ok, I KNEW OF) a few muslim girls who worked in one of the hotels and one wo worked in attractions with me that I regularely saw on the train to and from the park wearing hijabs. At work, however, they did not wear the scarves. The girl in attractions chose to wear her winter attire hat all the time and the others (as far as I saw) didnt wear anything to cover their hair and necks at all at work.
I think Disney is relatively tolerant towards religious attire and habits - a team member friend of mine got breaks every day in order to pray and had a staff room reserved for himself when doing so, for example.
That said, I think at some point one must draw the line. Certain hindu sects, for example, require the men to wear a dagger at all times - a habit not lightly implemented in many jobs today. Certain asian traditions traditionally encourage young women to ear arm-length gloves at all times - also very difficult to combine with many jobs.
As much as I respect people's right to a faith etc. I also think that a faith in something as restrictive as many conservative religions MUST come with an understanding that certain aspects of life and society will be made more difficult or not be accessible at all.

I always ask myself how and when Disney will put their foot down regarding certain guest habits. It is perfectly all right with me for guests to pray etc. as long as they do not shove their beliefs up any other guests throats, but I've seen instances where guests have gone too far in this aspect - in the end ruining the mood for others.


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Post by Thatguy » Sat May 22, 2004 12:28 pm

and ottar brought up the point I immediatly thought of...

if I were a devout Sikh I wouldn't shave and I would wear a dagger all the time. does that mean it's acceptable to wear while working at disney? (beard and dagger?


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Post by techie-13 » Sat May 22, 2004 2:24 pm

I alaso agree with Zazu. And I just wanted to point out that she had worked at the resort for several years and was probably well aware of the dress code, I don't think that they suddenly changed it on her, so asking her to be in uniform wouldn't be causing her a hardship. Disney tried to accommodate her and she is the one who quit the full-time job. As long as they offered her a position where she could make equal compensation, I don't think she should have a lawsuit.



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Post by Weeble » Tue May 25, 2004 12:11 pm

It seems pretty cut and dry. When she hired in, she was told of the costume requirement. I find it interesting to note that in this country you can sue an employer for not letting you wear a headscarf which is not part of a Uniform whereas in some countries you would be punished legally for NOT wearing that scarf. Come to America, the land of the free and brave (and sue us while you're at it too!).


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Re: Suit says Disney fired woman for wearing Muslim scarf at wor

Post by hobie16 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:42 pm

I believe this one was discussed in the past. Now she's gonna sue.


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Re: Suit says Disney fired woman for wearing Muslim scarf at wor

Post by shilohmm » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:42 pm

I don't mean to be flippant, but I think the employer has some rights, too, and she's violating them. ;) They had an agreement she was okay with, she changed the rules on the employer, the employer tried to accommodate her, and it didn't work out -- but she's still the one who changed the rules. The employer didn't do anything wrong, so I don't think she has a case.

Which has nothing to do with what I how I think the case will work out. But I don't understand why the presumption in so many articles on this seems to be she has a "right" to the job, even though she has decided not to honor the agreement she was originally hired under. She should have the right to quit when the employer makes changes that make the job intolerable -- or when she's been there long enough she can't take it anymore, whatever -- but why should she have the right to demand the job under the conditions she wants? I don't get that. The employee shouldn't have the right to force the employer into a relationship the employer didn't freely agree to any more than the employer should have the right to change the rules on the employee and force them to put up with it.



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Re: Suit says Disney fired woman for wearing Muslim scarf at wor

Post by Goofyernmost » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:43 pm

Did anyone besides me notice that the posts on this thread are from, at least, 2004? Seems like a long time from event to litigation.


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