Greeley, Colorado – From National Public Radio
Last month, more than 100 Somalis were fired for walking off the job after the company refused to let them take breaks to pray at sunset during the Muslim holiday month of Ramadan. They are in the process of filing a class-action lawsuit against the company.
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“They closed bathrooms, they taped the water fountains,” she says. “And they said, whoever was going on break to pray, they said, ‘Give me your badge and get out of here; you’re fired.'”
A half-dozen workers lost their jobs that day, according to Abdi. A hundred or so more were fired when they skipped work in subsequent days to protest the company’s policy.
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Stacey Frennel and Sandy Hunter, who were hanging out on a porch a few miles from the factory, say that the immigrants should adapt to the U.S. way of life. They say they have to work on Sundays, so they don’t get to go to church.
In some cases, courts have supported Christians seeking time for prayer. But there aren’t many rulings on Muslim cases yet. So if the Somali workers go to court, they could set a precedent.
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Greeley’s mosque is a small, unmarked building on the edge of downtown. Evening prayers echo from a loudspeaker in the women’s area where Fardosa Ali has spent the afternoon, proofreading unemployment forms filled out by fired workers.
Ali has been suspended from the plant. She says when a supervisor told her she could be fired for praying, it was an easy choice.
“He told me, if you pray, we’re going to fire you today,” Ali says, whose union is filing grievances for the fired workers. “I told him, that’s OK, sending me home, that’s no problem. But my prayer is more important than work.”
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Read the full story and listen to audio at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95254631