From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
May 25 — An Islamic civil rights group May 25 filed an EEOC discrimination charge and an NLRB complaint on behalf of 15 Somali Muslims fired after a Wisconsin power equipment manufacturer began restricting the timing of workplace prayer breaks.
Ariens Co. engaged in unlawful religious and national origin discrimination as well as retaliation against employees who sought accommodation for their religious beliefs, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in announcing the charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Milwaukee office.
Ariens also violated the National Labor Relations Act by firing employees who engaged in protected concerted activities, CAIR said.
CAIR, along with a Denver law firm, previously filed similar EEOC and National Labor Relations Board complaints on behalf of Muslim workers at a Cargill Inc. beef processing plant in Fort Morgan, Colo. CAIR earlier had indicated it was contemplating the EEOC charge against Ariens.
Other cases in which Muslim employees allege discrimination or retaliation for taking prayer breaks are pending throughout the country (84 DLR C-1, 5/2/16).
In a May 25 statement, Ariens said it's “disappointing” that a Washington-based organization is filing an EEOC complaint against the Brillion, Wis., employer.
“We have had Muslim employees working for the company for nine years,” said Ann Stilp, an Ariens corporate communications manager. “We currently have 27 Muslim employees who continue to work here, and the company continues to accommodate them with prayer rooms. We respect their faith and we respect the work they do.”
The company previously had said it began enforcing its scheduled break policy because non-Muslim employees complained about workplace disruptions caused when Muslim production workers left the line to pray.
In a May 24 letter to the EEOC, CAIR detailed the events leading to Ariens's alleged discrimination and retaliation.
Ariens had allowed individual Muslim employees to take brief prayer breaks with their supervisors' approval, and no workplace disruption resulted, CAIR said.
But in January, the company began enforcing a policy requiring Muslim employees to take prayer breaks only during two pre-scheduled 10-minute break periods.
Observant Muslims must pray at five specific times during the day, so some employees asked Ariens for flexibility in timing prayer breaks or to move the scheduled breaks closer to the times during which they must pray, CAIR said.
But Ariens management refused to discuss any accommodations, disciplined Muslim employees who took prayer breaks outside the prescribed break periods and ultimately fired 15 Somali Muslim employees, including some who had never violated the break policy, according to CAIR.
The company committed multiple violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, including failure to accommodate employees' religious beliefs and retaliation for seeking such accommodation, CAIR said.
The EEOC and the NLRB now will investigate the charges, which could take months, said Maha Sayed, a CAIR staff attorney in Washington who represents the workers.
If the EEOC declines to litigate, it could issue a right-to-sue letter that allows the workers to file a private Title VII lawsuit, Sayed said during a May 25 press briefing.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at email@example.com
Text of CAIR's letter to the EEOC is available at http://src.bna.com/fki.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)