Amusement park bars visitors from rides over religious head coverings
(SANTA CLARA, CA, 4/29/2014) – The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) and UNITED SIKHS announced today that they have filed three complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against Boomers! amusement park, a subsidiary of Palace Entertainment Ltd., for barring park attendees wearing religious head coverings from its Go-Kart rides.
The complainants reported to CAIR-CA and UNITED SIKHS last year that they were permitted entry to the park, but then denied access to the Go-Kart rides after employees cited unfounded safety concerns. Since then the organizations have been working to resolve the issue by addressing the park’s safety concerns and the clients’ civil rights and public accommodations concerns.
SEE: CAIR-LA Boomers Complaints and Nasir Complaint
The company has maintained the position that it cannot accommodate anyone wearing a religious head covering on its rides, despite being unable to offer any substantive proof of the safety concerns it cites as justification for the discriminatory treatment.
“While safety is our priority, we ask Boomers! to approach the concern over religious headgear as any other safety concern and explore alternative accommodation solutions that will allow everyone safe access to their rides,” said Sammar Miqbel, CAIR-LA’s civil rights coordinator. “There are larger amusement parks with far more intense rides than Boomers! and they have managed to accommodate individuals wearing religious headgear, so we ask that Boomers! follow in their footsteps.”
“With the passing of the Unruh Civil Rights Act in 1959, the California State legislature made clear that private business services should be made available to all Californians, regardless of their race or religion,” said CAIR Northern California Civil Rights Coordinator Brice Hamack. “Boomers! is acting in contravention of this long established law by barring access to its public attractions to thousands of Muslims across California.”He added that Boomers! cannot point to any legitimate safety concern under current state and federal safety guidelines to justify its discriminatory practice.
“Boomers’ Go-Kart policy currently targets the Sikh turban without reason or necessity,” said UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh. “It is discriminatory and inconsistent.”Singh added:”Sikh followers have long hair, which is covered and protected by the turban. The turban is meticulously woven and tightly secures an individual’s hair. The Go-Kart policy requires individuals with hair longer than shoulder length to tie their hair in order to ride the Go-Karts. A Sikh individual would be better protected wearing their turban while riding the go-karts, rather than remove the turban and tie their hair with an elastic or rubber band that is far less secure then a turban. It is arbitrary and counterproductive to require a Sikh individual to remove their turban, just to tie the hair up with a less secure instrument.”
CAIR-CA is a chapter of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
UNITED SIKHS is a U.N. affiliated, international non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization, aimed at empowering those in need, especially disadvantaged and minority communities across the world.