A group of six former employees of Hertz have reportedly sued the company for religious discrimination. The employees worked for Hertz at the Minneapolis – St. Paul airport. They claim that managers demeaned their religion, placed arbitrary restrictions on their ability to pray at work, and ultimately fired them allegedly because of their religion.
Hertz managers allegedly made disparaging remarks about Islam and the former employees. They reportedly made comments such as “if you pray continuously, you will make us lose money and no Muslims will be hired.” Another manager allegedly said “your religion is lying. The Qur’an is lying. You’re a liar,” and “your religion is stupid.”
Managers also allegedly entered the room designated for the Muslim employees to pray in and checked employees’ badges. According to Nadif Ketibe, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the prayer room was supposed to be “only for praying people.” “In my religion,” he said, “when I am praying, I am not supposed to be distracted by anything.” Mr. Ketibe also said that managers would wear their shoes in the prayer room while the employees were praying, which also contravenes Muslim practice.
As we previously reported, studies show that Muslims face more discrimination than most other religions in the United States. One potential explanation for the higher rates of discrimination is that many Muslims must practice their religion in the workplace either by praying during the day or wearing religious garb. Employers are often called upon to accommodate these religious practices. Federal law and Maine law require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees to exercise their religion so long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship; and this can create friction in the workplace between management and Muslim employees.
If you have experienced discrimination because of your religion or your employer has refused to provide a reasonable accommodation that you need because of your religion, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights.