A local business in the state of California was slapped with a fine simply for doing what they saw was safest for their customers. An amusement park in Livermore, CA was forced to pay out a cash settlement to several young ladies who were not allowed to ride go-carts at their park. At the time, the park had a safety measure in place to keep riders safe. This included banning a variety of loose clothing items that may come off or restrict vision. A loose piece of clothing coming off of a rider could be a danger to them or others.
For example, if a scarf were to come partially off and get caught in the motor or wheels it could do deadly harm to the rider. This policy did not allow passengers to use the go-carts while wearing anything loose like a head scarf. According to the policy:
“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.”
The policy was equally applied to headscarves, hats of all varieties, and yarmulkes. It was not targeting just the Muslim faith. The complaint against the amusement park pointed to this being a faith-based case. According to a statement made by attorney Brittney Rezaei, a member of the CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area:
“It was really upsetting for these individuals when they were denied access purely because of their religious beliefs.”
Even though the same policy also covered other headwear, it was held out as being a direct test of the Muslim faith. The case started as a direct result of an incident that occurred at Boomers in Liverpool. In August of 2013, a group of seven Muslim girls and women along with a Sikh man were not allowed to operate go-carts while wearing head scarves or turbans. Each of the guests was offered another type of headgear to wear, but they refused. They would have been allowed to ride the go-carts dressed in a safer, alternative head covering.
Boomer’s was owned by Palace Entertainment, who was named in the complaint. The complaint was filed in August of 2014 with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). According to the complaint:
“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. We are pleased that Palace Entertainment worked with DFEH to achieve resolution of these cases without the need for litigation.”
The settlement, in this case, was paid to each of the claimants in the form of a $4,000 check. It will also force the amusement park to change their safety guidelines to allow the use of the head scarves. The larger ramifications were explained in a statement made by the CAIR representative handling the case:
“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.”
The new policy does not explain how the company will keep both those wearing head scarves and other riders safe in the event one becomes loose and causes an accident. This may, in fact, leave the park open to lawsuits in the case of an injury. CAIR was quick to point out that other amusement parks like Disneyland do not have the same rules. They failed to mention that Disneyland also does not have the same type of go-carts in operation.
Unfortunately, this is not the first case of a head scarf interfering with basic safety. It is also not the first time they have taken the demand to wear the head scarves to court. A recent case in Michigan was just dismissed as a woman being booked into jail requested to remain in possession of her head scarf. The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office deputies instructed Fatme Dakroub to remove her head scarf as she was booked. She later sued to say this was mistreatment.
Dakroub was lawfully arrested for driving without a license. When she was arrested, she was booked into jail and expected to change completely out of her personal clothing like any other inmate. Due to a safety risk, she was also asked to remove the large scarf. To allow her to keep her head covered, she was offered an alternative in the form of a hooded shirt.
The inmate insisted she was mistreated and punished for her religious beliefs when she was treated like all other prisoners. This simply was not true as the scarf was a huge safety risk for both Dakroud and others in custody. Luckily, in this case, the courts sided with the jail. According to a statement issued by the jail:
“Allowing Plaintiff to retain possession of a lengthy scarf while she was in a jail holding cell presented significant security concerns for the Plaintiff, other inmates and corrections officers… officers acted solely upon considerations of the good order and discipline of the Oceana Jail, and by applying sound principles of safety within a correctional facility.”
While these two cases are different in the reasons they asked for the women involved to remove head scarves, it came down to safety in both cases. One has to wonder if the next lawsuit will be tied to an injury when someone is allowed to wear a scarf without regard for safety. Each of the women involved was offered alternatives to keep their heads covered to respect their religious beliefs.