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Employers Required to Accommodate Muslim Employees for Prayers

A federal judge gave the green light for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) to proceed to trial against JBS USA LLC in an action to accommodate Somali Muslim workers by denying reasonable accommodation requests for prayer breaks.

The primary allegations made by the employees stem from management's refusal to change the time of a second-shift dinner break for Muslim employees to allow them to meet their religious obligations. After management's refusal, the company terminated approximately 80 Muslim employees who participated in a work stoppage over the religious accommodation issue and retaliated against them for complaining.

The EEOC on behalf of the Muslim employees has brought an action for discrimination, failure to accommodate, wrongful termination, and retaliation. The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v JBS USA, case number 8:10-cv-00318, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.