Monday, October 10, 2011

Hertz Fires 34 Drivers at Seattle Airport for Praying on Company Time

Not only is it beyond crazy to fire 34 people all of the same national origin and religion for engaging in a religious activity, but it was done only two years after the EEOC helped unionize the same workplace where an agreement was reached that allowed workers to clock out to pray during their two 10-minute breaks.  On top of that, the clock out policy was never enforced.  However, in arbitrary fashion, that policy suddenly became enforceable and was used to terminate 34 workers--all Somali Muslims--for not clocking out before praying, reports the Seattle Times.

Hertz is claiming that the workers were warned repeatedly prior to their suspensions about clocking out and that those who did clock out before praying were not fired.  However, as is typical in employment law disputes, the employees cite different facts:
Zainab Aweis told the newspaper she was unaware of any rule change and was simply warned, along with other Hertz drivers, by a manager on Friday that they could not pray, not that they were required to clock out first.
"He said, 'If you guys pray, you go home,' " she recounted. "I said, 'Is that a new rule?' And he said, 'yes.' "
When they went ahead and prayed anyway, as religious Muslims do up to five times daily, they were taunted, she says.

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