Disney World shifts ‘look policy’ to accommodate Sikh man

Opening Ceremony

After a seven year fight, Walt Disney World has changed its ‘look policy’ to accommodate a member of the Sikh religion who had been limited to work outside the view of the public. Walt Disney World has recently changed it’s look policy to allow closely trimmed beards on men, but men in the Sikh religion wear a turban and an untrimmed beard as part of their religious compulsions. The new policy will allow the cast member to begin to serve guest areas.

When Gurdit Singh was hired as a mail carrier at Walt Disney World in 2008, he was told he would be not be permitted to work mail routes that were visible to guests. This limited him to delivering on one route and caused conflict between him and his fellow mail carriers at Disney. It also limited his opportunities for advancement.

After the ACLU and Sikh Coalition sent a letter in May of this year on Mr. Singh’s behalf, Disney finally adapted their look policy to accommodate Mr. Singh’s religious traditions and allow him to work all the main route with a turban and neatly-gathered and tied beard.

Disney had previously adopted some of its on stage costumes to accommodate religious traditions, for instance Muslim women can wear a head covering themed to the costume of their assigned area. The US Supreme Court also recently ruled in EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch that employers must accommodate an employees need for a religious accommodation.

I’m a fan of Disney’s efforts to maintain the show via the look policy for cast members. But I’m not a fan of segregation at work based on religion, race, or other protected classes as it almost always results in some level of discrimination. It’s likely after this change in policy that we’ll see Sikh men and employees of other groups that require accommodation working in more positions throughout the resort. While that may be a bit of a shock to the show, it’s a good thing for America.

4 thoughts on “Disney World shifts ‘look policy’ to accommodate Sikh man”

  1. So sorry to disagree but when you enter a Disney theme park you enter a large stage. This is why employees at Disney are called cast members. They are the cast of the show. People in a show wear costumes, make up and hair styles appropriate to the show. You can dress any way you choose off stage but on stage you follow the wishes of the director. If you don’t want to wear the costume assigned for a particular job, go work somewhere else.

  2. This is a wonderful decision. A Sikh man in a turban will look as much a cast member as all the rest of the employees, and to small children it may seem like a costume from Alladin, though of course he is from India.
    The first time I ever saw a person from India working as a dancer in an ensemble was on the Disney channel. I was so glad to be a Disney fan when I saw the group. By then one saw some black performers but Disney hired all kinds of performers from around th world not just as a headliner or Princess but in all sorts of jobs and in all,kinds of performance types.
    They are now back to being the leaders in Diversity. Despite the prices going up I happily save for visits. Go Disney! (And no more replacing workers with cheaper non American techs! Glad they changed on that action, All backgrounds, but no outsourcing unless required)

  3. I am all for diversity and I think accepting religious backgrounds is appropriate. I don’t think that Disney should jeopardize the Disney standards. I have thought for quiet some time that the standards have been lowered. By that I mean cast members with unkept hair, tattoos, no teeth, wrinkled costumes, etc. I also know that is was cost driven but allowing cast members to wear their costumes home lessons the magic. The Disney costumes can be seen all over, Publix, McDonalds, and etc. while I am on the topic of standards being lowered, the parks and resorts are not being kept up like they used to be.

  4. I agree with Jim and Tammy. The parks are a stage and we as guests pay for the experience of walking through the stage. I’d be opposed to this just the same if a minister or rabbi wanted to work at Disney and wear a collar or yarmulke while interacting with guests.

    But while we’re at it, why stop here? What about Broadway plays? Why not insist that a Sikh, minister or rabbi get to wear their religious garments on stage while they play non-religious characters in theater. Spiderman with a turban? The Phantom of the Opera with a minister’s collar? How about Rum Tum Tugger with a yarmulke? Anyone? C’mon…it’s for “diversity”…

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