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Is It Job Discrimation If Your Employer Doesn't Allow You To Pray 5 Times A Day?

By Pamela Jean     Feb 26, 2007 in World
Federal complaints alleging religious discrimination at work has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. Muslims are suing employers, stating that they should be allowed to have 5 breaks per day to perform their prayers to Allah. Employers disagree.....
Sehan Nabry, a school bus driver from Burnsville, said her boss confiscated her prayer mats and complained that her ritual hand and feet washing messed up an office bathroom.
Nabry said giving up her daily prayers, one of the five pillars of Islam, is not an option. Instead she did what an increasing number of Muslims are doing in Minnesota and around the country -- she sued.
"People told me I should just leave the job and find a new job, but I was thinking if I leave this job, theres no guarantee there wont be another manager like him," Nabry said. "I came to America for freedom. Why should I walk away?"
With an increasing Muslim population in Minnesota, the court system there has seen an alarming increase in the number of religious discrimination lawsuits. 10 years ago there had been a total of 4 such suits. In 2006 there were 66!
Federal law clearly outlaws religious discrimination, and requires a "reasonable accomodation" of a worker's faith. The question is, what is reasonable.
In October 9 past and current employees of Gold'n Plump Chicken filed a suit charging that they were prevented from praying at work. They also alleged they were forced to handle pork on the factory line, and given dirty, less desirable jobs than other, non-Muslim workers.
The attorney for Gold'n Plump stated the following - "Life doesn't stop five times a day even in Islamic countries," said Thornton, who's tapped an Islamic expert for assistance. "Islam understands supporting ones family is critical. There is flexibility in that faith, like other faiths, where they can make it up later. To suggest this interferes with their religious freedom is ludicrous."
Thorton also indicated that allowing the Muslims to break 5 times a day jeapardized safety and food quality, as well as causing other non Muslim employees a decrease in moral.
So, where do you stand on this issue? The Federal law governing this is apparently rather lose. Determining what is "reasonable" is not easy.
Is it fair that Muslims ask to be allowed to roll out the prayer rugs and proceed to pray on the job, while those that do not practice such things continue to work - or will this just cause a further rift between the Muslims and those of other faiths, or no faith at all? Would you not feel it unfair that you are at your desk, taking calls and attending to your daily responsibilities while your coworker drops to his or her knees 5 times a day?
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