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California woman says Disney discriminates against Muslim workers

Children and teens can be immature and say hurtful things to others who are different from them. Parents usually tell their children to simply ignore someone else's hurtful words. People don't expect adults to act this way toward others, though, especially in professional settings like the workplace. And when this type of behavior does occur, it should not be tolerated.

Unfortunately, there are many Los Angeles workers and other employees throughout the country who have experienced harassment in the workplace, either by co-workers or supervisors. In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, a former employee for Disneyland Resort says that she was harassed because of her Muslim beliefs and practices.

While working for Disneyland, co-workers had called her a "terrorist" and a "camel." To put an end to the harassment and ensure the protection of her rights in the workplace, the woman filed verbal and written complaints with her employer citing harassment and religion discrimination. Anyone might assume that the harassing remarks would have prompted supervisors at Disneyland and Walt Disney Corp. to investigate the worker's claims so that appropriate actions could be taken to end the harassment. In this woman's case, the harassment only continued.

Employers are legally obligated to protect employees who experience harassment in the workplace, but not all employers do. According to the woman's lawsuit, Disneyland refused to address her complaints and later fired her for wearing a scarf to cover her head at work.

The woman began working for Disneyland in 2008. Initially, she did not wear her hijab while she was at work. But in 2010, she informed her bosses that she would like to wear her hijab at all times. It took weeks before her supervisors agreed that she could wear a Disney-designed head scarf. But even then, supervisors told the woman she would need to get approval from corporate officials.

When Ramadan began, the woman decided that she would wear her head scarf to honor her religious beliefs. Supervisors told the employee that she could not work in public with the scarf covering her head. She was told she could either work in a position that was not in public or she would need to take the scarf off to keep her current position. The woman has not been able to return to her job for two years now.

The woman is requesting compensation for workplace harassment and discrimination. She is also requesting that Disney employees receive proper training on employee rights and protections. Finally, the woman also wants Disney to allow all Muslim workers to wear their hijabs.

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

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