In August 2014, a complaint was filed against Palace Entertainment with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This came after Boomers amusement park in Livermore, which is owned by Palace Entertainment, had denied Noorah Abdo the pleasure of riding go-karts at the park. CAIR was successful in getting the company to pay out $32,000 in a discrimination lawsuit and change their “no headwear” policy to settle the discrimination lawsuit. Each of the plaintiffs will receive $4,000.
 
CAIR submitted the grievance to the state agency on behalf of seven Muslim girls and women, as well as a Sikh man. The plaintiffs had been denied the use of the go-karts because they refused to remove their religious garb. CAIR attorney Brittney Rezaei said that the plaintiffs were upset because they had been supposedly denied access to the go-karts “purely because of their religious beliefs.” said Brittney Rezaei, a civil rights attorney with CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area.
 
In addition to the monetary award, Palace Entertainment has agreed to address safety issues at its parks in Irvine and Livermore by allowing customers to ride the go-karts while wearing securely wrapped religious head coverings. 
 
“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. 
 
In 2013, Nasir Abdo was told that his daughter, Noorah, was barred from the go-karts because of the company’s policy. In the complaint, Abdo stated, “When I read the policy, I was shocked — in disbelief — about the material I was reading.” Nasir Abdo claimed that he offered to have his daughter wear a helmet or a hoodie in lieu of her hijab, but asserted that those suggestions were denied.
 
Palace Entertainment’s policy was first implemented in 2010. It 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.” Company policy stated that hats, ear muffs, and yarmulkes were also not allowed on the go-karts.
 
The Livermore park is now under new ownership and allows go-kart riders to wear hijabs and turbans. 
 
In 2010, a 24-year-old Muslim woman was killed when a fluttering part of her burkha became caught in the wheels of a go-kart she was driving near the town of Port Stephens, north of Sydney, Australia. Her Muslim garb flew back towards the wheels while speeding around the track. There it became entangled, immediately strangling the young woman. Her husband and young child were present for her death.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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