Tags: Religion | muslim | workers | prayer | colorado | discrimination | laws

Cargill Muslim Employees File Discrimination Complaints

Image: Cargill Muslim Employees File Discrimination Complaints
(Photo by Spencer Tirey/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 07 Mar 2016 03:22 PM

The latest dispute between Muslim workers and their bosses over prayer time on the job is playing out in a small town in Colorado — and with a federal agency that enforces discrimination laws.

The New York Times reports Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colo., — which has a population of less than 12,000, 1,000 of whom are refugees from Africa — has fired 150 Muslim employees for walking off the job in a fight over the role of prayers at work.

The workers say top managers told them their religious breaks — previously allowed once or twice per shift, in 10-minute segments, after explicit permission from a supervisor — would be severely curtailed.

The company said no such change was announced, and that "prayer requests" are based on adequate staffing.

Dozens walked out in protest in mid-December, and the firings took place days later, the Times reports, adding many workers say they won't return until worship breaks are guaranteed.

"Occasionally, there are times when staffing limitation does not allow granting of prayer requests," Mike Martin, a company spokesman, tells the Times. "There has been no change to our religious accommodation policy. The granting of prayer requests has always been based upon adequate staffing."

Lawyers representing about 130 of the Cargill workers have now filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal employment discrimination laws, the Times reports.

The workers claim Cargill violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to "reasonably accommodate" religious observance as long as the request does not pose an undue hardship to a business.

The Times reports the agency wouldn't say if it's received the complaints or started an investigation.

"The community that was so tightly knit, all the neighbors have left and fragmented," 30-year-old Said Ali tells the Times. "I'll go wherever I can find a job, wherever they let me pray."

Even non-Muslim employees are moving on, the newspaper reports.

"We were told: We're going to cut down on the prayer," Adam Martinez, a former supervisor, tells the Times, adding Martinez says he quit after a boss asked him to write up an employee who left the line to worship.

"Sometimes what's right is right. These people didn't come all the way here to get treated like dogs."

The dispute mirrors another in 2008 at a meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colo., run by a company called JBS, which is now facing federal allegations it discriminated against workers by failing to provide reasonable religious accommodations, the Times reports.

And in Wisconsin last month, Ariens fired seven workers after telling employees they'd have to pray during scheduled breaks and not when their religion dictated.

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The latest dispute between Muslim workers and their bosses over prayer time on the job is playing out in a small town in Colorado — and with a federal agency that enforces discrimination laws.
muslim, workers, prayer, colorado, discrimination, laws
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2016-22-07
Monday, 07 Mar 2016 03:22 PM
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