EEOC has beef with meatpacking company that violated civil rights of Muslim workers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that the U.S. unit of Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS SA violated the civil rights of more than 100 Muslim Somali workers in plants in Colorado and Nebraska, unlawfully harassing them and firing them based on their religion.

According to the Reuters article,

"The dispute began last year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when the
workers walked off the job after managers denied them a prayer break at sunset.

Supervisors had initially agreed to adjust work schedules to accommodate
the requests by Muslim workers but later reversed their decisions after
non-Muslim workers protested the changes.”

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, country of origin, race and color), employers must reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee, unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. Some reasonable religious accommodations that employers may be required to provide workers include leave for religious observances, time and/or place to pray, and ability to wear religious garb.

Yet in the past 15 years, claims of religious discrimination filed with federal, state and local agencies have doubled – spiking a record 15% in 2007. Perhaps as surprising, these numbers are growing faster than claims based on race or gender.

With workplace disputes over religion on the rise, it’s essential that you include diversity awareness and training in your anti-harassment initiatives. Be certain you’re taking active steps to prevent religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace and when necessary, are accommodating employees’ religious beliefs and practices.

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