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.
People in Michigan and elsewhere are probably not surprised to hear that although gender discrimination is prohibited under federal law, transgender individuals still face discrimination in the workplace. A 2011 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling established that gender identity is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A Michigan state representative has filed a sexual harassment complaint against a local Arab-American leader. The accused man has been placed on administrative leave by the civil rights group for which he works, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The government has stated that he may be fired if it is shown that he committed workplace discrimination against the complainant and other women.
Most of our Detroit blog readers are probably well aware of the fact that a boss or supervisor who inappropriately touches or talks to them at work has committed sexual harassment. But when such behavior takes place outside of the workplace, whether it constitutes harassment is not always entirely clear.
An AT&T worker who converted to Islam in 2005 was shocked at the change in the way her coworkers treated her. They had never bothered her before, but now they called her hijab "that thing on her head" and referred to her as a "towelhead" and a "terrorist." What was even more shocking to her was that her supervisors knew what she was going through, but made so little effort to stop the harassment.
The Equal Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces employees' rights, received a record number of complaints in 2011, just as it did in 2010, the agency reported recently.
Video-rental chain Blockbuster recently agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle claims that it permitted sexual harassment and racial discrimination against female employees at one of its East Coast facilities. Although the incidents that led to this outcome occurred in Maryland, the principle at work here is equally true in Michigan; no one should be subjected to harassment in the workplace and employers who do not do enough to keep their workers safe and free from harm may have to pay for that mistake.
Many Detroit readers are probably already familiar with Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza executive who, this fall, came out of nowhere to emerge as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
Harassment in the workplace does not just happen in certain job fields or in particular areas of the country -- sadly, it is far more widespread than that. A new book from a muckraking journalist even alleges that under the Obama administration, the White House is a 'genuinely hostile workplace for women." The allegation of a hostile work environment is one of the book's more eye-popping claims.
As we discussed in our last post, sexual harassment is unfortunately alive and well in our society. The latest example? The case of a Utah woman who was allegedly told to wear revealing clothing while at work.