ORLANDO, FLORIDA (07/08/15) – Under pressure from the ACLU, with additional pressure from the Sikh Coalition, Orlando’s Walt Disney World decided to changed its policy regarding keeping Sikh Gurdit Singh out of sight at all times to patrons of the theme park. Now Mr. Singh is free to work anywhere in the park and to be seen by Disney guests while dressed in traditional religious garb, according to the ACLU.
For the seven years that he has been employed at Disney, Mr. Singh was not allowed to work mail routes that were in sight of park goers because Disney claimed his appearance was not in conformity with their dress code, which is referred to as the “Disney Look.” The “Disney Look” rules regarding beards and hats were cited as areas where Mr. Singh was non-compliant. Disney has guidelines for how beards should look and only allows employees to wear certain types of hats. While Disney said its personnel policy has a clause that says they provide reasonable accommodations for the religious beliefs of employees, they have an unconventional way of getting around it. Instead of allowing Mr. Singh to work anywhere in the Park, as all other mail carriers do, he was only allowed to deliver mail to Disney’s corporate offices, where he was out of view in the areas for customers.
As a result of being singled out because of his religious attire, Mr. Singh’s chances for advancement were unreasonably limited, his workload was heavier because he delivered to the corporate offices alone, as he was not permitted to take place in the 3-week rotation of routes (some harder or easier than others) that was policy for other mail carriers. The policy for Mr. Singh also created animosity towards him from other mail carriers because he was not allowed to step in and assist coworkers on their routes when extra help was needed.
Walt Disney World’s in-house counsel, Armando Rodriguez-Feo, has sent a letter to the ACLU that Walt Disney World has decided to approve Singh’s religious attire for work and will be allowing Singh to be able to perform work duties on any distribution route and to follow the scheduled rotation along with the other Disney mail carriers.
When asked to comment on the outcome of this situation, Walt Disney officials refused to do so.