ONLY about 1 percent of the U.S. population is Muslim and practices Islam, but 40 percent of religion-based workplace complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in 2015 were Islam-related and filed by Muslims. The agency has pursued a wide range of disputes, including whether Muslims can be fired for refusing to handle pork or alcohol at work.
Bloomberg NewsConcerns relating to litigation filed by designated terrorist group CAIR about religious discrimination have some American employers taking steps to make the workplace more Muslim-friendly, Bloomberg News reports.
Anything from establishing prayer rooms to having office parties WITHOUT alcohol are just some of the things U.S. companies are doing out of deference for their Muslim employees.
“The atmosphere is so toxic now that even having constitutionally protected religious accommodation in the workplace can somehow be controversial,” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Bloomberg.
Office rules and constitutional rights have collided for decades, but the tension takes on new weight in an era of heightened apprehension about Islam, especially after the slaughters in Nice and Orlando and as some Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, suggest Muslims be vetted to determine if they should be allowed to stay in U.S.
CAIR filed complaints on behalf of Muslims whose jobs were terminated last January at a meat-packing plant after they staged a walk-out in protest over what they claimed were restrictions on their ability to have prayer breaks several times a day.
Ariens, a family-owned Wisconsin based roto tiller factory, tried to accommodate its Muslim workers prayer schedule at its factory, reported, but doing so satisfactorily made the production line less efficient, Ariens said in a statement. Muslims must pray five times every day, with one added prayer on Friday.
“The value you get back from an employee who feels welcome and accommodated for their religious practices is immeasurable,” she says. “If employers don’t start taking these issues seriously, and put in measures to ensure that no one is subject to harassment, we’re going to see more claims,” Michelle Phillips, an employment law attorney, told Bloomberg.
In EEOC cases settled with companies including AutoZone Inc. and United Parcel Services Inc., workers said they were taunted by colleagues, referred to as terrorists or called “Bin Laden,” or weren’t allowed to change schedules so they could go to the mosque. Last month, a Muslim officer was suspended by the New York City Police Department because he wouldn’t shave the beard he wears for religious reasons; he was temporarily reinstated after he sued.
After the San Bernadino terror-attack linked to Islamic State last year, the EEOC added a page to its website: “Responsibilities Concerning the Employment of Individuals Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids considering religion in making employment decisions (but you can, just don’t tell anyone) and requires reasonable (when it comes to Muslims, it always goes beyond reasonable) accommodation for religion-based requests, so long they don’t’ cause undue hardship. The courts have tended to side with workers when it comes to religious garb or facial hair.
No one can compel you to hire a Muslim and you never have to give religion as a reason why you didn’t hire someone. Make it a policy NEVER hire a Muslim, and you will not be subjected to frivolous lawsuits by CAIR, which they often win.