About 190 Muslim employees of a meat packing and distribution plant in Colorado were fired after they walked off the job in an attempt to intimidate their employer into providing extra break time for prayers. Most of the employees are said to be immigrants from Somalia.
The plant, run by Cargill Meat Solutions, is located in Fort Morgan.
The Muslim employees failed to report to work for three consecutive days before being fired.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has become involved. Representing about 100 of the fired Muslims, Jaylani Hussein, a CAIR spokesman and executive director, said they were told, “If you want to pray, go home.”
CMS has said that CAIR and the Muslims it represents are mischaracterizing the events leading up the the mass termination. The company says it made “reasonable attempts” to resolve the dispute with its former employees without compromising its business operations.
“At no time did Cargill prevent people from prayer at Fort Morgan,” said Michael Martin, a spokesman for CMS.
CMS denies allegations that it had recently changed its accommodation policies at the plant to allow for prayer, which included a designated room for Muslim prayers. Hussein acknowledged that the policies may indeed have remained constant, but that the Muslims represented by CAIR “feel” that a change had taken place.
The factory still employs more than 400 Somali workers. More than 2000 people are employed at the plant. Salaries start at $14/hour, and the workers are unionized.
H/T Emilie Rush and Jesse Paul at The Denver Post