(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/8/16) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed recently-announced rulings by Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment that more than 100 Muslim workers fired from the Fort Morgan Cargill meat processing plant are eligible for unemployment benefits.
Attorneys from CAIR and Denver’s Rathod | Mohamedbhai law firm, who represent the majority of the fired workers, insisted that the Muslim employees had been fired last December after Cargill instituted a prayer ban in its facilities. Cargill challenged the workers’ claims for unemployment benefits, but withdrew its challenge after losing almost 20 appeals.
Hearing officers who heard the appeals found that it was a change in policy relating to prayer in the workplace that led to the mass separation of over 100 Muslim workers. Cargill officials had previously denied that the company changed the prayer policy.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment rulings repeatedly stated: “No person should be expected to choose between fidelity to their religion and their job.” The Hearing officers also found that there was no legitimate business justification for the change in prayer policy or for the denials of prayer accommodations during the week of December 14, 2015.
“We welcome this victory for the Muslim workers and hope it will assist them in some small as they continue to face economic hardships acutely suffered since Cargill changed its prayer policy, thereby denying the employees their right to religious accommodation in the workplace,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, who traveled to Colorado to assist the fired workers.
Hussein noted that Cargill’s previous policy, which had been in place for nearly a decade, allowed Muslim employees to pray as long as business needs were met. One Muslim woman who worked at the plant since 2012 told the hearing officer that she had never been denied the right to pray until December 15, 2015, the date of the policy change.
On that date, the Muslim worker’s supervisor reportedly told her she could use her break to go the restroom, but if she wanted to pray, she would have to go home.
CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” to help employers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.
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.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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