For the third time in eight years, Muslim employees of Electrolux, the Swedish appliance giant with a plant in St. Cloud, have complained that the company is denying them religious freedom in the work place.
In a nearly-identical complaint to one filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010, Muslim employees claim that Electrolux is not accommodating necessary practices during the month-long Ramadan fast.
Last year, a mediation granted employees a shifting 30-minute break, to allow for a meal and prayers to break the fast. This year, the company's cut back on the lunch break, and 150 Muslim employees say they don't have enough time.
The employees filed their EEOC complaint through the Minnesota chapter of the Council for American Islamic Relations.
"It is shocking that one year later, after an EEOC-mediated resolution, Electrolux is still unwilling to provide reasonable religious accommodation to its employees," said Minnesota CAIR civil rights director Taneeza Islam.
Islam's statement continued, "CAIR-MN will continue to advocate for the employees and ensure that corporate arrogance does not interfere with obeying workplace religious accommodation laws."
According to CAIR, the majority of employees who work the night shift in the St. Cloud plant are Muslim. To observe Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunup to sundown, breaking that fast after sundown with a meal and prayer, which comes into direct conflict with working the night shift.
Electrolux first came under fire in 2003, when the 165 Somali Muslim employees said the company was not allowing them to pray five times a day, as dictated by the tenets of Islam. In that case, as in last year's, Electrolux quickly agreed to negotiate with employees.
The complaint might mean something for the future, but is coming a bit late: There's only one week left of Ramadan, which ends on August 30 this year.