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Muslims claims DHL practiced workplace discrimination in firings

In an action that Muslim workers in Detroit might find relevant, a group of Somali Muslim DHL Global Mail employees are claiming religious discrimination because the delivery company reversed its policy of flexible break times, which initially allowed them to stop work for the five-minute prayers required by their religion. The Islamic employees accused DHL of worker discrimination after the company fired two dozen of them, allegedly for pausing in their duties to say the prayers, which had previously been allowed. One fired employee made $11.57 per hour to sort mail and said that he had never received any negative comments about his work.

That employee was one of 11 filing complaints so far with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with another 13 expected. The actions said that DHL had fired the group of Somalis for exercising religious rights that are protected by law. The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the complaints on behalf of the workers.

Under federal civil rights laws, reasonable accommodations need to be allowed for employees who want to follow the requirements of their religion. The second pillar of Islam, called Salaat, requires adherents to pray at five specific times during the day. The fired workers, three of whom were full-time employees of DHL Global Mail and 21 who worked part-time through two temp agencies, said that they had been permitted to say their prayers by previous supervisors.

Employment discrimination is against the law. An attorney experienced in civil rights litigation may be able to help individuals in Detroit or Oakland who believe they have been the victims of workplace discrimination, such as age discrimination or race discrimination. The court system may be a useful tool to help remedy harassment or other violations of employee rights.

Source: USA Today, "Muslim workers say they were fired for praying", Mark Curnutte, November 06, 2013

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