(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/15/05) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today announced that it has been retained as legal counsel by 21 of the 30 Muslim employees recently forced from their jobs at a Dell Inc. plant in Nashville, Tenn., for seeking to perform religiously-mandated prayers in the workplace. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the workers, who were forced to choose between performing the prayers and keeping their jobs, signed the retainer agreements in a meeting with CAIR in Nashville on Saturday.
SEE: “Muslims Say Dell Forbade Them to Pray at Work”
“Federal law requires that followers of all faiths be offered reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace,” said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar. “An employee should not be forced to choose between his or her faith and continued employment.” Iftikhar said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires an employer to accommodate religious practices unless it causes an “undue hardship.” He said hundreds of Muslims from across North America and around the world have contacted Dell in response to a CAIR “Action Alert.”
SEE: “Contact Dell to Urge Rehiring of Workers, Mediation”
Last week, CAIR asked that the Muslim workers who were forced from their jobs be rehired pending resolution of the issues involved. The group also offered to mediate a mutually-agreeable settlement to the dispute. (CAIR has helped resolve hundreds of religious accommodation cases involving American Muslim workers.) “Muslims worldwide are very concerned about this case and wish to see a satisfactory resolution that takes into account both the disruption to the workers’ lives and respect for religious practices,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, who met with the workers on Saturday.
CAIR publishes a booklet, called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to prevent just such incidents. The booklet is available by e-mailing email@example.com. (Include name, address and phone number when requesting the booklet.)
The Washington-based group has 31 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. To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About