Nearly 200 Muslim workers—mostly Somali immigrants—were fired by a Colorado meat-packing plant last month for walking off the job over claims their employer was preventing them from praying, USA Today reports. "Prayer is the first priority to every Muslim," a man assisting the fired employees says. "We can sustain without a job, but we cannot sustain without prayer." A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations tells the Denver Post Muslim employees were told Dec. 18, "If you want to pray, go home." In response, approximately 190 Muslim employees refused to work Dec. 21. According to USA Today, most of those employees were fired Dec. 23. A company policy states if employees are out for three days without "calling in," they can be fired, KUSA reports.
Cargill Meat Solutions has a special area for employees to pray during the day, but it can only be used if they have enough staff to cover for the praying employees, KUSA reports. "While reasonable efforts are made to accommodate employees, accommodation is not guaranteed every day and is dependent on a number of factors that can, and do, change from day to day," according to a Cargill statement. The company says that policy hasn't changed. "It's an unfortunate situation that may be based somewhere in a misunderstanding," a Cargill spokesperson tells the Post. CAIR claims Cargill's prayer policies are not always clearly communicated to employees. The meat-packing plant still has more than 400 Somali employees, and the company is working with them on the prayer issue. (Read more Colorado stories.)