Fort Morgan workers file federal complaints against Cargill

by Erica Shaffer
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FORT MORGAN, Colo. – Lawyers filed federal complaints of employment discrimination on behalf of about 130 Somali Muslims who work at Cargill Meat Solutions’ Fort Morgan processing plant. Cargill’s spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

The complaints, which were filed with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), allege that Cargill violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Federal law requires employers to “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s religious beliefs or practices. Some examples of accommodation include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift swaps or modifications to workplace policies or practices, according to the EEOC website.

In December 2015, about 200 Muslim employees walked off the job, claiming they were not allowed to take breaks to pray. Cargill denied the allegations, saying the company’s religious accommodation policy had not changed. At the time, Mike Martin, director of communications for Cargill, said the employees worked on an assembly line, and were allowed to leave one or two at a time to avoid slowing production.

The Fort Morgan plant has a “reflection area” to accommodate employees, however Cargill noted that “accommodation is not guaranteed every day and is dependent on a number of factors that can, and do, change from day to day. This has been clearly communicated to all employees.
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