JBS seeks to dismiss retaliation, discrimination claims

by Erica Shaffer
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OMAHA – JBS USA asked a federal court in Nebraska to dismiss claims of discrimination and retaliation based on earlier court rulings on an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit alleging the company refused to accommodate Muslim workers' prayer requests during Ramadan in 2008. JBS asked for the dismissal in a reply brief to the EEOC's objection to JBS' motion for partial summary judgment.

The EEOC sued JBS USA in August 2010 alleging that management at JBS' Grand Island, Neb. facility refused to accommodate Muslim workers' prayer requests during Ramadan and fired about 80 Muslim employees who joined a work stoppage over the issue. The lawsuits allege that JBS USA “created a hostile work environment for Somali and Muslim employees due to their race, national origin and religion.”

JBS argued that the court already found during and earlier phase of the litigation that the firings were based on employees' violating the No Strike/No Lockout provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The company also argued that the retaliation claims also should be dismissed.

“The Court has already determined that “[a]t no time did JBS discipline or discharge any of its Muslim employees for praying,” although some were disciplined for walking off their lines without permission. Thus, claims alleging retaliatory discipline or discharge for the protected activity of praying are precluded by the Phase I Findings,” JBS said in court documents.

Additionally, JBS is seeking to recover $90,201.84 in fees and court costs.
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