Friday, August 20, 2010

Opinion - Disneyland vs Religious Garb?

Jen: So, I heard an interesting Disneyland related news story from my mom this morning. I'm curious as to what you think. A woman is a hostess at one of the Disneyland restaurants, and she's Muslim. She wants to wear her hijab, but Disneyland said no because they consider all of the Disneyland uniforms to be "costumes", and that's not part of her restaurant's specific costume. Disneyland is EXTREMELY strict about what their cast members wear.

There was someone from our high school who was a cast member, and she wore the wrong shoes, and they sent her home without pay and a 3 day suspension. So they're definitely not singling this woman out. It's just their policy.

As a huge Disney fan, I fully support the company on this one. It's all of those little details that Disney has that makes the experience. Allowing everyone to wear "accessories" of their choosing takes away from the aesthetic of the experience.

Anyway, what do you think?

Crystal: hmmm, thats a tough one. i did hear about this on the news, but i didnt hear about the whole story so didnt fully understand what was going on....but based on what you said - i think i side with Disneyland.

It's a tough one, because a lot of companies have uniforms, etc. and you have to abide by them - and a lot of places say that you can't have facial piercings, visible tattoos, you can't wear certain types of clothing, etc.....but a lot of places will still allow items having a religious stance on them.....

BUT - on the same note - because Disneyland's uniforms are considered "costumes" and they are part of the role-playing of Disneyland and walking into this magical world so to, just as an actor on a movie or tv show wears what the costume designer and director tells them to, so should a Disney cast member, right? If it bothers you or goes against your religion to abide by the company's rules, you shouldn't work there.......I don't want to wear a Hooter's shirt and booty shorts, so I won't apply there....and I don't want to wear a stripper's uniform (or lack of one), so I won't work there....and I don't want to wear a covered-wagon-era costume like they do at Knott's Berry Farm, so I'm not going to work there either....and as much as I want to wear flip flops to my current job (it's a business casual dress code), I'm not allowed to and I'd likely be sent I don't. The dress code is something you consider when taking a job - it's just how it is.

So after I wrote this, I went and did some quick googling on the subject...I saw that this specific employee went back and forth with Disney on this and they were working on a compromise (offering to have one designed to fit with her costume even) - but it sounds like they were completely dragging their feet on it...........

With that piece of info - completely unprofessional of Disney to string her along for such a long time, BUT - as I work in a corporate office and am exposed to the schedules of executives and various people who are usually the "[wo]man behind the scenes", I know how hectic and busy people's schedules can be....I know that sometimes it takes months and months to have tiny decisions made simply because you can't get on someone's calendar to have decisions approved. I see both sides.....

And it appears that there are also various communications out there saying that based on anti-discriminatory laws, etc. people should be allowed to wear the hijab for religious purposes.......................which I wholly support if the only contradictory explanation is purely for bigotry reasons....but I don't feel that one rule always applies to everything and that there are always exceptions.....Disneyland is one of those exceptions and I feel that law and policy makers should leave room for these things.

Obviously this is purely my opinion, and if there are facts that I'm not aware of or considering, I'd love to be enlightened so that I can rethink my opinion based on these other pieces.

Readers...what do you think??

Photo by By Jae C. Hong, AP

Jen: I also read a few articles after we talked (they all seem to leave out one detail or another, but all together I think I have the whole story now). Yes, Disneyland offered to create a hijab for her. I think that was going above and beyond, personally, but that's their choice as her employers. They have even gone through a fitting process for her, but the costume department still needs to finish the design and manually create it. They're just not moving fast enough for her. It's been 2 months. But why does she assume that her costume gets top priority and should be moved to the front of the line when that department has it's hands full already (I knew someone who used to work in their costume department, and from what she said, there's always A LOT of work to be done).

If anyone of us broke the dress code at work, we'd have consequences! And if my job's dress code made me uncomfortable, I'd leave. Isn't that common sense?

I'm feeling a little riled up here because this new "Politically Correct" world that we live in is taking things a little too far. In fact, I'll be posting something on Haute Whimsy next week regarding racial tension. I'm really excited about the post because I found someone who drives the point home very nicely.

Crystal: So I saw an interview with this lady on CNN at lunch today in the breakroom...and I couldn't help but feel like there may have been someone behind the scenes pulling her strings almost...she didn't seem like she was really moved to wear the hijab because of religious reasons....she went 2 years working there without wearing one and no complaints. When the anchorman asked her why she decided to now after 2 yrs, she just said that she "was ready"....and then on a side note mentioned that she had learned during studying for her citizenship that legally she was allowed to wear it. So at that point, I feel like she was making a big deal about this purely because she could and that the religious reasons behind it are just a supporting excuse.

In addition, the anchorman asks her if they offered her other options for work...she responds saying that they offered her a position in the back where she wouldn't be seen by the customers in the interim while they worked on a compromise (i.e., the Disney approved hijab). But she kinda just wrote it off in an ungrateful 'how dare they throw me in the back' kind of way.....which I can see being annoying - I'd rather have results vs being pushed to the back.....but it's such a large company with so many different pieces involved (legal people, costume people, human resources people, etc.) that you just can't expect results to happen that quickly. It unfortunately just doesn't work that way in large corporations.

After watching the interview today, and assuming that i know all the facts that play a role in this, then I completely side with Disneyland 100%. They were very accommodating for offering to design a hijab for her (that's above and beyond in my opinion), and they offered her another position temporarily so that she could keep a job and still observe her religious rites. I feel that they did what they could in this situation and she is being ungrateful and unmoving.

Jen: Just to be clear on moving her to the back, and so people who may not understand Disneyland to the extent that we do can get a better understanding ...

Disneyland considers every employee a "cast member", and they don't have uniforms, they have "costumes" for every position. When she word the hijab, she was altering her costume, so she was told she could:

1. Remove it and continue working "on stage"
2. Continue wearing it and work "back stage"
3. Go home for the day

I don't know this for a fact, but there's no doubt in my mind that her employment contract covered the dress code. Therefore, she knowingly broke the rules. When she was given a consequence, she continued to break the rules with no regard to the company. I see this as her creating a hostile work environment!

One reader has asked what the woman is trying to get out of this situation. It looks like a payoff. She's suing for racial discrimination. HA! Of all the companies to sue for that! Disneyland has always been such a wonderful melting pot of all races, ages and gender. They are the epitome of equal opportunity!


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