Somali-American Muslim workers receive $1.5 settlement after religious discrimination by meat plant
Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill Meat Solutions agreed to pay a $1.5 million settlement to 138 Somali-American Muslims who were denied prayer breaks and subsequently fired after they protested at its Fort Morgan, Colorado beef processing plant.
While Cargill denies religious discrimination, they have agreed to a financial settlemnt to avoid further litigation. The giant meatpacker company also agreed to dispatch and train employees at its Colorado plant to better accommodate the religious needs of Muslim workers.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal anti-discrimination agency, discovered that hundreds of Somali-American Muslim workers were harassed for protesting the unexpected policy change denying prayer breaks in 2017. Many say they were not given prior notice or opportunity to oppose the change. In a statement, the EEOC says it had “reasonable cause to believe that Somali, African and Muslim employees were harassed, denied their requests for prayer breaks and fired.”
The federal agency also claims the Somali-American Muslims are members of a Teamsters union that has failed to properly represent them in the discrimination complaint.
Elizabeth Cadle, the federal agency’s regional district director, stated, “In its capacity as a bargaining representative for its members, labor unions have an obligation to represent their members regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”
While the union denies this claim, they agreed to pay the workers a $153,000 payment for assistance.