"The Constitution tells me I can be Muslim, and I can wear the head scarf. Who is Disney to tell me I cannot?" A private company with a dress code that it is (at least so far) still free to implement. But the point of this case is to reinforce the principle that wherever Islamic law and American law and practice conflict, it is American law and practice that must give way.
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- A Muslim woman who worked as a hostess at a Disneyland restaurant is suing Disney, claiming the company wouldn't let her appear in front of guests while wearing her headscarf.
It's a dispute that's been going on for about two years, but now the American Civil Liberties Union is getting involved.
It all started in August 2010 when Imane Boudlal, a Morocco-born U.S. citizen, worked at the Storyteller Cafe in Disney's Grand California Hotel.
Boudlal wears a headscarf, or hijab, but Disney said the garment didn't comply with its strict dress code.
Disney offered up a compromise hat for her to wear, but Boudlal said it made her look like a joke.
"The hat makes a joke of my religion and draws even more attention to me," Boudlal told KTLA at the time.
"It's unacceptable. They don't want me to look Muslim. They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."
And her point is that she wants to look Muslim. She wants to force Disney into featuring Muslims and showcasing the Muslim presence there. Disney doesn't want people to look like adherents of any particular religion -- they want people to get into the spirit of fun and fantasy that their games and rides and shows represent. But for Islam all must give way.
Boudlal had worked at the resort for two and a half years, but only realized she could wear her hijab to work after studying for her U.S. citizenship exam.
She became a citizen in June 2010, and decided to challenge the Disney dress code a couple months later, on August 15.
When she wore her headscarf to work, Boudlal says she was told to take it off, work in the back where customers couldn't see her or go home.
She chose to go home, but reported to work for the next two days and was told the same thing.
Boudlal subsequently filed a complaint against Disney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission..
In a prepared statement, Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said the company "values diversity and has a long-standing policy against discrimination of any kind."
"Typically, somebody in an on-stage position like hers wouldn't wear something like that, that's not part of the costume," Brown said.
"We were trying to accommodate her with a backstage position that would allow her to work. We gave her a couple of different options and she chose not to take those."
But Boudlal maintains that wearing a headscarf is her constitutional right.
"My scarf doesn't do anything to harm Disney or the guests," she told KTLA.
"The Constitution tells me I can be Muslim, and I can wear the head scarf. Who is Disney to tell me I cannot?"