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Electrolux, EEOC team up to help Muslim workers

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Employers rarely go out of their way to interact with the EEOC, but appliance manufacturer Electrolux is earning kudos for doing just that this summer.

Electrolux actively sought the EEOC’s input when dealing with a religious accommodation issue facing Muslim employees at its St. Cloud plant.

Earlier this year, Electrolux barred all food from production areas of the plant. Muslim employees immediately spotted a problem: The Muslim holy month of Ramadan requires practitioners to fast during daylight hours; they can eat only after sundown. Electrolux’s food prohibition meant evening shift workers who wished to break their Ramadan fast immediately after sundown could not do so.

They asked the company for an accommodation. When an initial company proposal failed to satisfy the workers, they complained to the EEOC.

Wishing to resolve the issue before the start of Ramadan, the company asked the EEOC to mediate talks on the issue.

“We immediately contacted the EEOC and we are pleased that they were able to assist us in resolving the issue well in advance of Ramadan,” said John Valence, Electrolux St. Cloud plant manager.

The company agreed to alter break times during Ramadan, allowing Muslim employees time to pray and break their fast at sundown. The company also provided a private place for workers to eat, away from the plant’s production area.

An EEOC statement praised the company for proactively handling the issue.

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