CAIR: Customer Service and Faith Clash at Registers


CAIR: CUSTOMER SERVICE AND FAITH CLASH AT REGISTERS

Beryl Dsouza was late and in no mood for delays when she stopped at a Target store after work two weeks ago for milk, bread and bacon.

So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier -- who had on the traditional headscarf, or hijab, worn by many Muslim women -- refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.

"She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag," said Dsouza, 53, of Minneapolis. "It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier."

In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Qur'an that prohibits the handling of pork products.

Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.

It has set off a firestorm of comments -- more than 400, as of Tuesday evening -- on the Star Tribune's community blog, www.buzz.mn. People called the newspaper from as far as Tokyo to voice their opinion.

It remains unclear how many Muslim cashiers in the Twin Cities are declining to ring up pork sales. . .

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for a person's religious practices if it doesn't impose an undue hardship.

A customer's personal preferences is usually not a factor in deciding whether a religious practice is protected in the workplace, noted Khadija Athman, national civil rights manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.

In most cases, a cashier should be able to call over another cashier who can scan a product and the shopper shouldn't be inconvenienced, Athman noted. "If the employee is rude and gasps at the sight of pork, then it's a different situation," she said.

 


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