(ST. PAUL, MN, 04/1/08) - The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today announced that more religious accommodation complaints may be resolved after Muslim workers’ bias suits against a Minnesota-based poultry company were settled.
On Tuesday, a federal judge approved a $1.35 million religious discrimination settlement against Gold'n Plump Inc. As part of the settlement, the company will add a paid break to accommodate Muslim prayer in the workplace.
SEE: Bias Suits Settled with Gold'n Plump, Job Agency (Star Trib)
“The Gold'n Plump decision sets a new standard for religious accommodation in Minnesota,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeeza Islam. “CAIR-MN’s goal is to ensure the Muslim employees are afforded their religious rights and are free from discrimination. We are not asking for anything special, but we demand that employers understand and follow the law."
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance, all protect the right of any employee with a bona fide religious belief to have religious accommodations at the workplace as long as they are not unduly burdensome for the employer.
The majority of cases reported to CAIR-MN focus on a failure to accommodate prayers in the workplace. Prayer is an obligatory part of the Muslim faith and is performed five times throughout the day.
According to recent cases reported to CAIR-MN:
- A number of Muslim employees have been terminated or forced to resign since June 2007 at Minneapolis-based Wholesale Produce Supply Company because the employees were engaging a legally-protected activity, praying at work. The employees report to CAIR-MN that they asked supervisors for religious accommodations, but were ignored and then reprimanded.
- A Woodbury Wal-Mart employee was reportedly fired in February when he was caught praying by a new manager. He explained he was previously allowed to pray before the new supervisor banned Muslims from praying in the workplace.
- A Maplewood JCPenney employee was allegedly fired when caught praying in a fitting room. Her manager allegedly told her, “J.C. Penney cannot accept you if you pray.”
- Muslim employees at Vadneis Heights-based ColoPlast were informed that due to a new company policy, they could no longer pray in the workplace. As a result, several Muslim employees were allegedly fired.
Ms. Islam said that CAIR-MN is working actively with the above-mentioned companies to ensure that all relevant laws are being followed.
CAIR-MN has conducted diversity training to educate employers about Muslim practices and religious accommodation laws to help them understand and resolve disputes in the workplace and will host a state-wide employers’ training in August 2009.
Additionally, CAIR offers a booklet called "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices" to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.
SEE: An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Communications Director Jessica Zikri, 612-226-3289, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam, Esq., 651-587-4712, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202 488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org