FORT MORGAN — Cargill Meat Solutions has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a discrimination claim and resolve a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge.
Cargill does not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, which originated out of Cargill operations in Fort Morgan. The company wanted to settle to avoid further legal proceedings. The EEOC had determined that there was probable cause to believe Somali, African and Muslim employees were harassed, denied their requests for prayer breaks, and fired from their employment at the Fort Morgan plant.
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In their charges, the workers alleged wrongful termination based on discrimination and the wrongful revocation of a religious accommodation policy that permitted them to take short breaks to perform their obligatory prayers in accordance with their beliefs.
The financial settlement will be paid to 138 workers who were terminated by the company. Cargill also 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.
“We are gratified with the settlement reached for the 138 former Cargill employees that we represented in this proceeding and applaud the company for its ongoing efforts to consistently grant prayer requests to people of all faiths based on its longstanding policy and values,” said Qusair Mohamedbhai of Denver law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC. “We appreciate the collaborative efforts of Cargill and Cargill’s commitment to continue to communicate its longstanding prayer accommodation practices.”