(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/8/16) â€“ The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed a change in policy allowing Muslim workers fired in a recent dispute over accommodation of prayers at a Cargill meat processing plant in Colorado to reapply for their positions 30 days after their termination date, instead of the previous 180-day period. CAIR has been retained to represent the majority of the workers fired from the plant.
Video: CAIR Seeks Reinstatement of Cargill Workers Fired Over Prayer Dispute (Al Jazeera)
In a statement issued today, the company said in part:
â€œCargill's Wichita-based North American beef business has updated its policy related to the time interval between the date when an employee is terminated and the date when that person may become eligible to reapply for a position with the company. The policy was changed to allow all former employees terminated for attendance violation or job abandonment to be considered for potential rehiring 30 days after their termination date. This is a change from what previously had been a 180-day period. . .This change will provide for an orderly and expeditious reapplication process for people seeking an opportunity to potentially fill vacant positions at our beef plants.”
Cargill operates eight plants in the United States and Canada, employing some 18,000 people.
â€œWhile we welcome the changes to the termination rehire process because our clients want to return to work and support their families, this does not resolve the prayer accommodation denial and the ambiguity of the current policy on prayer,â€ said CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks.
â€œWe hope this means that Cargill will continue to consider changes to other policies, particularly the policy on prayer accommodation. Our clients were denied reasonable accommodations and there has been a pattern of hostility to their daily requests for prayer accommodations,â€ said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.
Hussein and Wicks traveled to Colorado recently to meet with the fired workers.
In a letter sent yesterday to Cargill CEO David MacLennan, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
â€œThis case is affecting Cargillâ€™s image and reputation in the Muslim community as well as other religious communities.Â Cargill should show a willingness to resolve this issue as soon as possible. . .After two telephone conferences with Cargill attorneys last week, we were advised that the policy for reapplying to work at Cargill would be changed so that these fired workers could apply for work again at Cargill. We hope that policy has been changed and would like to be advised of that change. We also wish to discuss and strategize about Cargillâ€™s religious accommodation policy, which currently requires workers at the plant to ask daily for an accommodation for prayer.â€
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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 Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, 612-406-0070, email@example.com; CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks, 202-322-9397, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com