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Disney employee says she was harassed because she is Muslim

Workers in California who have been victims of discrimination may want to pay attention to the latest reported case of religion discrimination, which occurred at Disneyland Resort cafe.

A lawsuit against the powerhouse company Walt Disney Corp. is taking place in federal court after a female employee said she was harassed and discriminated against for believing in a certain religion. According to the woman, she was subjected to a variety of cruelty by co-workers for being a Muslim. Among name-calling, she was taunted about Muslims being potential terrorists.

When the harassment became too much, she reported the incidents to her superiors through verbal and written complaints. However, nothing was done to improve the workplace, to protect her rights or to reprimand those who had violated her rights. Instead, the woman was fired, her lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the woman was terminated from her position at the establishment in 2010 after refusing to remove her head scarf while on the job. The employee chose to wear the garment while she worked in 2010 and filed a request at the cafe to make an exemption for the scarf, which violated appearance guidelines.

Although approval was given at the cafe level weeks later, supervisors instructed that she must wait for approval at the corporate level before being allowed to wear the scarf. However, the employee chose to wear it during Ramadan and was told to cover it, remove it or work out of the public eye.

A lawyer for Disney stated the company gave the woman many opportunities for her to both practice her religious beliefs and work at the cafe, but she rejected them and did not return to work. The woman claims that Disney made it difficult for her to honor her religious beliefs and failed to make religious accommodations as employers are legally obligated to do.

The woman is seeking discrimination and harassment training for employees at Disney, the opportunity for Muslim employees to wear headscarves openly in public roles, as well as compensation for the company's wrongdoings.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Muslim employee's suit accuses Disney of bias over head scarf," Katie Mather, Aug. 13, 2012