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Cargill Meat, union reach $1.7M settlement with 138 Muslim workers at Fort Morgan plant over prayer accommodations

Cargill Meat Solu­tions and a union rep­re­sent­ing meat pack­ers have reached a nearly $1.7 mil­lion deal to set­tle claims that 138 Mus­lim work­ers at its Fort Mor­gan plant were denied proper prayer accom­mo­da­tions and then wrong­fully lost their jobs.

The set­tle­ment was announced Fri­day morning.

The 138 employ­ees, many of them immi­grants from Soma­lia, alleged they were dis­crim­i­nated against because they weren’t allowed short breaks sev­eral times a day to per­form their Mus­lim prayers and that the dis­pute led to them los­ing their jobs.

The sit­u­a­tion led to an Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Com­mis­sion complaint.

“While Cargill does not accept the basis of these EEOC com­plaints, it decided to set­tle the mat­ter out of court to avoid a pro­tracted legal pro­ceed­ing and pro­vide all par­ties with a path for­ward,” the meat­pack­ing com­pany said in a joint news release with the work­ers’ attorneys.

As part of the set­tle­ment, the release says Cargill has reaf­firmed its com­mit­ment to con­tinue to allow Mus­lim work­ers to take short breaks to per­form their oblig­a­tory prayers.

The set­tle­ment, accord­ing to the EEOC, includes a $1.5 mil­lion pay­ment to the work­ers from Cargill and a $153,000 pay­ment from Team­sters Local Union No. 455 over alle­ga­tions the union failed to prop­erly rep­re­sent the group.

“Pro­vid­ing our employ­ees with reli­gious accom­mo­da­tion is an impor­tant part of engag­ing and sup­port­ing our employ­ees, and our pol­icy has remained con­sis­tent for more than 10 years,” Brian Sikes, pres­i­dent of Cargill Meat Solu­tions, said in a writ­ten statement.

Qusair Mohamedb­hai, who rep­re­sented the Mus­lim work­ers, said in a state­ment that he and his clients “are grat­i­fied with the set­tle­ment” and “applaud the com­pany for its ongo­ing efforts to con­sis­tently grant prayer requests to peo­ple of all faiths based on its long­stand­ing pol­icy and values.”

Click here to read this arti­cle in its entirety at The Col­orado Sun