International delivery company DHL has been accused of firing 24 Muslim employees for praying during working hours.
The workers, some of whom had been with the company for up to six years, claim that the logistics firm in October introduced a new rule eliminating flexible break times, which they had previously used to perform evening prayers. When they went ahead and prayed anyway, they were all dismissed from their jobs at DHL’s branch in Hebron in the eastern US state of Kentucky, the employees say.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US’s largest Muslim civil liberties organisation, said the workers’ firing is a violation of the country’s 1964 Civil Rights Act and Kentucky Civil Rights Act. These acts require employers to reasonably accommodate staff’s religious practices.
CAIR has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission civil rights complaint on behalf of the 24 former employees.
DHL has denied firing the workers for exercising their right to perform religious practices. “While we believe that all respective internal rules of DHL Global Mail are perfectly in line with legal requirements, we will investigate/consider the case carefully,” DHL said in a statement.
“DHL Global Mail is an equal opportunity employer and takes seriously all complaints of harassment and discrimination, however we do not comment in detail on pending charges or litigation. Our policies provide equal employment opportunities to all employees and comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws governing non-discrimination in employment,” it added.
“DHL Global Mail ensures employees’ religious practices are understood and, as reasonable, accommodated,” the statement continued.