As many as 100 Somali Muslims who are current and former workers at Gold’n Plump Inc. will receive a total of $365,000 in a settlement of federal lawsuits alleging religious discrimination at the company’s chicken processing plants in Cold Spring, Minn., and Arcadia, Wis.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed in September that St. Cloud-based Gold’n Plump violated federal law by terminating Somali workers who prayed during their work shifts. The EEOC alleged in a separate lawsuit that the Work Connection Inc., an employment agency in St. Paul, required applicants for jobs at Gold’n Plump to sign forms acknowledging that they might be required to handle pork.
Many Muslims consider pigs to be unclean and believe the Qur’an prohibits them from handling pork products.
So they shouldn’t have signed the forms; they should’ve looked for pork-free employment.
Under a settlement approved by a federal judge Friday, Gold’n Plump has agreed to add a paid break during each shift to accommodate Muslim employees who wish to pray. The Work Connection has agreed to stop using the pork form.
Gold’n Plump also has agreed to pay $215,000 to workers who were terminated for taking prayer breaks. The Work Connection will pay $150,000 to workers who were asked to sign the pork form. The EEOC estimates that 40 to 100 workers will qualify for the payments.