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Friday September 14, 2018

Cargill will pay $1.5 million to 138 terminated employees to resolve charges that the company’s managers violated the Civil Rights Act by refusing to allow Somali-American Muslim workers to pray during their breaks at a meatpacking plant in Colorado, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Friday.

The commission found reasonable cause to believe Somali, African and Muslim employees were harassed, denied their requests for prayer breaks, and fired from their employment at Cargill’s Fort Morgan, Colo., beef processing plant. While Cargill does not accept the EEOC’s findings, it decided to settle out of court to avoid a protracted legal proceeding.

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Cargill has reaffirmed its commitment to continue to allow Muslim workers to take short breaks to perform their obligatory prayers. Cargill’s religious accommodation policy takes into account key business requirements, such as employee and food safety, and production line needs.

“Providing our employees with religious accommodation is an important part of engaging and supporting our employees, and our policy has remained consistent for more than 10 years,” said Brian Sikes, president of Cargill Meat Solutions.

Qusair Mohamedbhai, of Denver law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, which represented the workers, said he is gratified by the settlement and applauds Cargill.

“We appreciate the collaborative efforts of Cargill and Cargill’s commitment to continue to communicate its longstanding prayer accommodation practices,” Mohamedbhai said, in a statement issued by the Council on Islamic-American Relations.

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