Nearly four years after Noorah Abdo was denied from riding go-karts at a Livermore amusement park because she wore a hijab, the company has agreed to change their “no headwear” policy and pay $32,000 to settle a discrimination complaint.
A complaint against Palace Entertainment, an amusement park company and owner of the Boomers park in Livermore, was filed in August 2014 with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The grievance was submitted on behalf of seven Muslim girls and women, and a Sikh man after they were denied access to the go-karts because they refused to remove their religious hijab or turbans.
“It was really upsetting for these individuals when they were denied access purely because of their religious beliefs,” said Brittney Rezaei, a civil rights attorney with CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to awarding each of the plaintiffs $4,000, Palace Entertainment agreed to address safety concerns at its parks in Livermore and Irvine, and allow customers wearing securely wrapped religious head coverings to ride the go-karts.
“The law guarantees Californians of all faiths access to places of business and entertainment, and safety concerns must be founded on more than speculation or stereotype,” said Kevin Kish, director of the Fair Employment and Housing agency. “We are pleased that Palace Entertainment worked with DFEH to achieve resolution of these cases without the need for litigation.”
When Abdo and her family went to the Boomers park in August 2013, her father, Nasir Abdo, was told that his daughter, who was then 13 years old, could not ride the go-karts because her head scarf was against company policy.
“When I read the policy, I was shocked — in disbelief — about the material I was reading,” Nasir Abdo said in the complaint.
Nasir Abdo said he offered to have Noorah wear a helmet or a hoodie in lieu of her hijab, but that those suggestions were also denied.
Palace Entertainment could not be immediately reached for comment.
The policy, which was implemented in 2010, read, “If fashion, religious expression or your hair style is more important to you than safety, that’s fine. You can do what you want with your life. You just can’t do it at our park.”
Furthermore, the company policy stated in addition to hats and ear muffs, yarmulkes were also not allowed on the go-karts.
When the complaint was filed, company officials from Palace Entertainment said they were unaware of any headwear-related accidents at Boomers parks.
Parks like Disneyland and Great America don’t have the same restrictions. Palace Entertainment’s change in policy is an important step in eliminating discriminatory policies, Rezaei said.
“It means that people won’t be denied access to this attraction just because of their religious beliefs. They will be able to participate like every other member of their family or their friends,” Rezaei said.
The Livermore park is under new ownership and allows go-kart riders who wear hijab and the Sikh turban, Rezaei added.
It’s not as if the hijab isn’t a potential death trap:
- Muslim woman strangled by her burka in go-kart accident
- Canada: Muslim woman dies after hijab tangled in Montreal escalator
- Hijabi almost strangled to death after headscarf caught in dough mixer
CAIR is a notorious Hamas-front group that terrorizes American citizens, companies and organizations through intimidation and litigation jihad. SF Gate knowingly did not share that information with readers.