JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – According to the lawsuit, a mother and her daughter were denied service, removed from the park, and their membership terminated due to an incident involving their religious headgear.
Staten Island residents, identified in court records as a Muslim woman and her daughter, claim they have been discriminated against by a public accommodation facility on the basis of their religion, nationality, and ethnicity, according to the lawsuit J.A./M.A. vs. Six Flags Great Adventure.
The theme park is now trying to get the case kicked out of court, saying they should not be held liable for the actions of their employees and the case could soon go off the rails.
The pair visited the theme park on August 31, 2021 and as part of their religious observance, wore hijabs, Muslim head coverings designed for women in public.
The woman say park officials singled them out for their Muslim and Middle East ethnicity due to their headscarves.
They claim that as they waited to go on a ride, attendants began questioning the women about their belongings.
“Other guests who were not wearing hijabs were not questioned in this way,” lawyers for the women claimed. They claimed the line attendants questioned them again while waiting online for their second ride that day too.
Despite telling the attendant they only had their Six Flags ID cards in their pockets, they were searched by park employee and patted down in front of other guests waiting in line.
They were told they needed to put their cards in a nearby locker and return to the back of the line. When others were being afforded to get back in line after leaving items in the lockers nearby, the mother asked the attendant why they were being treated differently.
“Because I don’t like you,” the ride operator allegedly responded.
They decided to file a complaint against the ride operator with park security who told them that if they filed a complaint, they would be allowed to stay in the park. If they didn’t “let it go”, they would be removed.
The woman decided to file the complaint. Afterward, they were notified by park officials they were required to leave the park and were escorted off the property.
Great Adventure, in response to the lawsuit, asked the court to dismiss the case with prejudice, stating the plaintiffs failed to make any claims and are saying the company cannot be held liable for their employee’s actions.
“Plaintiffs contend that they were discriminated against by being denied access to a public accommodation due to their faith, Muslim, under the public accommodation provisions of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”),” Six Flags responded. “Specifically, they contend that they wore hijabs to SFGA’s Great Adventure park and, while there, underwent purportedly excessive safety checks prior to using a ride, argued with (and lied to) the ride attendant, and were removed from the park. As set forth in the Motion, the Plaintiffs’ claims are deficient as a matter of law. Initially, Plaintiffs’ claims fail because SFGA cannot be strictly liable for the conduct of the ride attendant, as Plaintiffs argue.”
Instead, the park is arguing that the ride operators were acting in good faith to enforce safety policies set forth by the park and that the plaintiffs lied in their court filing.
“Plaintiffs lied to the ride attendant about what items they had in their possession when they sought to get on the rollercoaster in 2 Copies of these unpublished opinions were attached to the initial brief filed in question, which created a material safety risk, since those items could fall out while on the rollercoaster they were seeking to ride,” Six Flags said in their response to the lawsuit. “As pled, Plaintiffs “informed the ride attendant that they only had their membership cards in their pockets” but acknowledge that they were “informed . . . that they would have to put their keys and membership cards in their locker” and “[a]nother guest in line offered to hold Plaintiffs’ items.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected for grammatical errors and republished.