Industry News

Cargill Meat Plant Fires Muslim Workers After Prayer Dispute, Walkout

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Jan 02, 2016

190 Muslim workers, most of them immigrants from Somalia, were fired from a Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Colorado just before Christmas following a dispute over prayer breaks.

A reflection area was set up in the Fort Morgan, Colo., plant in 2009 for use by any employee wishing to pray during work shifts, but use apparently is somewhat limited by the company’s need to maintain work flow.

On Dec. 18, 11 Muslim workers asked for a break to pray at the same time, but a supervisor told them they would have to go in smaller numbers; he reportedly suggested three people at a time. One week later, nearly 200 Muslim employees failed to show up for work for three consecutive days. The company fired them all.

In various published reports, Cargill officials said the decision to limit the employees to three at a time was based on staffing and workflow needs in that particular area. Muslim officials were quoted as saying the plant's policy regarding prayer on the job has been changing lately; one report, in The Inquisitr, said supervisors have been less understanding of the need to pray since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

Praying five times a day is a must for many Muslims and, according to one report, the timing of prayer changes with the season.

The Council on American Islamic Relations was negotiating with the company to get the workers rehired.