EEOC Sides with Workers in Cargill Prayer Dispute
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sided with about 150 Muslim workers at a Cargill meatpacking plant in Colorado, finding reasonable cause that their civil rights were violated when they were forbid from praying during their breaks.
The Star Tribune reports that the ruling could set up a discrimination lawsuit if Cargill fails to reach a settlement with those affected.
According to the complaint, workers walked off the job at the Fort Morgan, Colorado plant in late 2015 after they claimed management changed policy that forbid them from praying at work. The workers were fired after failing to show up three days in a row. Cargill said it had never changed its prayer policy but was occasionally unable to grant individual religious accommodation requests when they impacted adequate production and staffing levels.
TCB covered the Fort Morgan lawsuit in a June 2016 feature on the challenges Minnesota production-line businesses face as the state’s Muslim population grows.
In a statement after the EEOC’s decision, Cargill said it was committed to inclusion and diveristy said that it met or exceeded all parts of the law regarding religious accommodation.
“Cargill has provided religious accommodation to Fort Morgan employees for many years and established dedicated reflection areas there in 2009,” the company wrote. “We are disappointed by, and disagree with, how the EEOC interprets what occurred at Fort Morgan in 2015.”