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Council Sues UPS After Company Fires Employees For Requesting Prayer Time

A group of Muslims have used the Council on American-Islamic Relations to file a lawsuit against both UPS and an affiliated staffing agency after Muslim employees were told that they couldn’t pray during work hours. When the employees politely requested a home visit or time to pray in a neutral area, several workers were fired.

The lawsuit, filed in the Hennepin County District Court, claims that both Doherty Staffing Services and the Mendota Heights UPS branch in Atlanta violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act (Title VI) by having no tolerance for the religious beliefs of Abdullahi Dahir and Abdifatah Hassan.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for the Council on American-Islamic Relations emphasized that practicing Muslims are required to pray 5 times every day and always in a timely manner. According to the lawsuit, prayers only took 5-7 minutes and did nothing to disrupt company productivity.

Prior to the company’s policy change, Muslim employees only had to inform a supervisor when they were taking a short prayer break.

One of the plaintiffs, Abdifatah Hassan, describes what drove him to approach the Council on American-Islamic Relations, telling ABC 6 News: “The UPS operations manager held a meeting and asked who wanted to pray. After we raised our hands, he said that he would replace all of us.”

Afterwards, the operations manager imposed strict rules on when and how employees could pray, telling Muslim workers that they would be fired if they were caught praying in the bathroom or travelling home to pray.

When several workers did exactly this, the new UPS operations manager followed through on his threat, terminating the employment of several Muslim workers. It was at this stage that several UPS employees approached the Council on American-Islamic Relations to ask for help.

"In general, most employees, when this happens, they just walk away," said an attorney for the organization, Amir Malik. "They don't complain, they don't know their rights, they're just trying to put food on the table, and companies feel they can get away with this. And we've seen multiple cases of this and it focuses a lot on low-skill jobs where they think that people don't know their rights and they can be abused."

However, when UPS were asked to respond to claims of discrimination, the company had a strong message for its detractors, slamming the lawsuit as unfounded and inaccurate.

Here is the full statement from UPS:

“UPS respects religious differences and has specific protocols for reviewing requested accommodations to resolve conflicts between beliefs and working conditions.

Both UPS and Doherty Staffing Services, a company that employs and manages the workforce at the UPS Mail Innovations facility in Mendota Heights, thoroughly investigated and found no evidence to support these allegations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also found no cause for claims against UPS and dismissed the allegations.

UPS Mail Innovations is a separate logistics unit that manages the pickup, processing and application of postage on behalf of companies for their flat mail, bound printed matter and parcels weighing less than one pound before transit to the U.S. Postal Service for final delivery.”

Source: Mad World News, KAALTV
Photos: Christopher Schmidt/Flickr, Fibonacci Blue/Flickr, Max Pixel, KAALTV, Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine/Flickr

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