Appliance maker says Muslim workers to be able to break fast

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Appliance maker says Muslim workers to be able to break fast

Post by TexasBlue on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:51 pm

Appliance maker says Muslim workers to be able to break fast

Bob von Sternberg
Minneapolis Star Tribune
July 23, 2010

An appliance manufacturer said Friday that it has changed policies at its freezer plant in St. Cloud that will make it possible for its Muslim employees to observe Ramadan, but a Muslim civil liberties group is questioning whether the changes go far enough.

The North American division of the Sweden-based Electrolux Group announced that it had adjusted its meal schedule so that its Muslim employees will be able to break their fast at sundown during the annual observance.

It's unclear whether the changes resolve the issues raised by Muslim employees, according to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). Those employees have not yet had a chance to review the company's proposal, the group said Friday.

Earlier this week, CAIR-MN asked that the Muslim employees be allowed to bring a snack onto the plant's production floor so they can break their fast at sundown. During Ramadan, which begins the second week of August, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.

Electrolux earlier this year adopted a new policy that bars all food from the plant's production floor.

Most of the 300 employees who work the evening shift are Muslims, CAIR-MN said.

Some employees filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying the company's policy violates federal and state civil rights laws.

According to the company, the new policy will allow "employees to break their fast in a safe environment away from the production area and without affecting manufacturing operations."

In a statement issued Friday, CAIR-MN said it's unclear whether the policy would allow all employees to break their fast right after sunset during Ramadan.

On most days, employees could use only the last 10 minutes of a new break time to eat and pray under the proposal, because the sun sets only at the end of the break, the group added.

Group representatives plan to meet with Muslim employees next week to discuss the company's plan.

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