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(RNS) A meatpacking company was wrong to fire more than 200 Muslim employees who walked off the job to protest insufficient breaks during Ramadan last year, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Workers at the JBS Swift & Co. plants in Greeley, Colo., and Grand Island, Neb., had wanted their breaks rescheduled to sunset during the Islamic month of daytime fasting, in order to pray and eat.
JBS officials say the company has amended its policies to accommodate its Muslim employees, predominantly Somali immigrants, during this year’s Ramadan observance, which runs until Sept. 19.
The EEOC ruling may result in the commission or the fired workers suing JBS if a settlement is not reached.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is not aware of any specific changes or plans to rehire the fired workers yet, said Christina Abraham, civil rights director for CAIR’s Chicago chapter.
“The workers are still not working there,” said Abraham, who had filed complaints on behalf of the Grand Island employees. “Now, the EEOC is going to try to facilitate some sort of resolution or settlement through a conciliation process. And if that doesn’t work out, we file a lawsuit.”
Diane King, a Denver attorney who had filed complaints on behalf of nearly 100 Greeley workers, said none of her clients have been rehired, either.
“It’s been a year, so most of them have moved,” she said, adding that she would seek other compensation for workers who did not want their old jobs back.
By Nicole Neroulias

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