More U.S. employers are taking steps to make Muslims feel accepted and safe at work, as their faith comes under scrutiny with the rise in terror attacks and calls by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for a ban on Muslim immigrants.
Companies are setting aside rooms for prayer, organizing group discussions about the religion and planning office parties without alcohol. The motivations may be principled, but the moves are practical. Managers want to keep talented workers and avoid conflict, and litigation.
Office rules and constitutional rights have collided for decades, but the tension takes on new weight in an era of heightened apprehension about Islam, especially after the slaughters in Niceand Orlando and as some Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, suggest Muslims be vetted to determine if they should be allowed to stay in U.S.
“The atmosphere is so toxic now that even having constitutionally protected religious accommodation in the workplace can somehow be controversial,” says Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which filed complaints on behalf of Muslims fired in January from a meat-packing plant after they staged a walk-out to protest what they said were restrictions on their ability to take prayer breaks.
“The value you get back from an employee who feels welcome and accommodated for their religious practices is immeasurable,” says Michelle Phillips, an employment law attorney. “If employers don’t start taking these issues seriously, and put in measures to ensure that no one is subject to harassment, we’re going to see more claims.”
While people who practice Islam make up only about 1 percent of the U.S. population, some 40 percent of religion-based workplace complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission last year were related to Muslims.
40 percent of religion-based workplace complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission last year were related to Muslims.
The agency has pursued a wide range of disputes, including whether Muslims can be fired for refusing to handle pork or alcohol at work. In many instances, the courts have said they cannot.
Read more at: Bloomberg