“We know that some of our employees would like a guaranteed prayer time every day. That is not the legal requirement, and it would be impractical to accommodate this without shutting down the production line.”
Indeed — especially since the prescribed times for Muslim prayers change slightly each day. But the Denver Post, as you can see, has decided that these Muslims demanding prayer breaks are victims — “I’m sorry, I was only praying,” and “It’s not a good thing when you have a family and you are supporting your wife, your kids” — and hence must be accommodated, despite the disruption that such accommodation will cause to the plant.
There is a consensus among Muslim scholars that obligatory prayers can — in fact, must — be made up at a later time. If, then, one is working and can’t get away, one can make up the prayers later. But that is not acceptable to these workers, which reveals that the objective here is not primarily to fulfill a religious obligation, but to make American businesses bend. Here again, wherever American business practice conflicts with Islamic law, it is American business practice that must give way. There is never any bending, any accommodation whatsoever in the other direction.
FORT MORGAN “” One afternoon this summer, Asha Abuukar said, she approached her supervisor at the Cargill Meat Solutions plant and got permission to go on break.
She washed in accordance with Islamic principles and prayed in a “reflection room” Cargill has set aside where beef is boxed and sealed.
When she returned two minutes late, she said, her supervisor told her that if it happened again, she would be fired.
“I’m sorry,” Abuukar, 41, who also runs a Somali market in town, recalled replying. “I was only praying.”
Although Cargill’s Fort Morgan operation has escaped controversy over accommodating the religious needs of its Muslim workforce, an undercurrent of problems exists, according to current and former workers and Somali translators.
Company officials say they respect religious rights and follow the law but cannot undermine a plant that produces 4 million pounds of beef daily.
“We know that some of our employees would like a guaranteed prayer time every day,” said Cargill spokesman Michael Martin. “That is not the legal requirement, and it would be impractical to accommodate this without shutting down the production line.”
He said the company accommodates the vast majority of daily prayer requests.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot deny a “reasonable” religious accommodation request as long as it does not pose an undue hardship, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Muslims pray five times a day at prescribed times that move depending on the sun’s position. That can pose challenges for plants with many Muslim workers. One-fourth of Cargill’s 2,000 workers are Somali, company officials say.
The number of federal workplace-discrimination complaints filed by Muslims shot up in 2009 and 2010, to almost 800 each year, the EEOC says. Those numbers eclipsed the decade’s previous high mark the year after 9/11.
“It’s not a good thing when you have a family and you are supporting your wife, your kids,” said Abdinasser Ahmed, a former Cargill worker….