May 28th, 2008 04:59 EST
MN Company Fires Muslim Women Over Attire
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on Mission Foods (also known as Gruma Corporation) to rehire six Muslim workers allegedly fired from a plant in New Brighton, Minnesota for refusing to wear tight-fitting pants and shirts as part of a new company uniform. CAIR-MN offered to help the company and its employees reach a mutually agreeable solution to the dispute.
CAIR-MN said the workers were fired after a new manager implemented a dress code that did not accommodate the Muslim women, whose religious beliefs require them to dress modestly and prohibit them from wearing tight or revealing clothing. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of their employees unless an "undue hardship" would prevent them from doing so.
The company, which produces Mexican tortillas and chips, cited safety concerns in implementing the dress code. However, CAIR-MN noted that all six Muslim women were packagers stationed at tables, and did not work on a conveyor belt. No safety issues have emerged regarding Muslim dress in the last 2 years the Muslim women have been employed. OSHA inspectors did not cite the plant for any hazards relating to employee dress during an inspection earlier this year. Furthermore, new management implemented the new uniform policy in February 2008, accommodated the women initially by allowing them to wear lab coats, and then abruptly took that accommodation away in April 2008.
We are certain that a resolution can be reached that is satisfactory to both the employees and the employer, Â" said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Taneeza Islam. One possible solution Ms. Islam offered is re-instituting the lab coats.
CAIR offers a booklet called "An Employer`s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices" to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.
CAIR, America`s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-MN Communications Director Valerie Shirley, 763-226-5866, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-MN Chapter Coordinator Chris Schumacher, 651-808-4110, E-Mail:,email@example.com; CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Taneeza Islam, firstname.lastname@example.org.