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Cargill settles bias suit with Muslim workers, agrees to pay $1.5M

Cargill is pay­ing a $1.5 mil­lion to set­tle claims of reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion by Mus­lim work­ers in Colorado.

The charges involve nearly 140 Somali-American employ­ees at a beef pro­cess­ing plant in Fort Morgan.

In Decem­ber 2015, employ­ees at the plant walked off the job after they were allegedly barred from pray­ing dur­ing breaks.

An inves­ti­ga­tion by the Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Com­mis­sion found there was prob­a­ble cause that the work­ers were harassed, denied their requests for prayer breaks and fired from their jobs.

“We are grat­i­fied with the set­tle­ment reached for the 138 for­mer Cargill employ­ees that we rep­re­sented in this pro­ceed­ing 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,” Qusair Mohamedb­hai of Den­ver law firm Rathod Mohamedb­hai LLC said in a pre­pared state­ment. “We appre­ci­ate the col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts of Cargill and Cargill’s com­mit­ment to con­tinue to com­mu­ni­cate its long­stand­ing prayer accom­mo­da­tion practices.”

Wayzata-based Cargill said it did not accept the basis of the com­plaints, but it decided to set­tle out of court to avoid a lengthy legal battle.

Cargill said it will con­tinue to con­duct manda­tory train­ing for all man­age­ment and hourly per­son­nel at its Col­orado facil­ity to explain that employ­ees have the right to be free from dis­crim­i­na­tion based on their race, or national ori­gin and to be accom­mo­dated for their sin­cerely held reli­gious beliefs.

“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 press release.

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