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Religion, workplace safety tangled up at Le Center bakery

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Dianne’s Fine Desserts faces a complex conundrum after 30 Somali workers left work following a June labor dispute at the commercial ­bakery’s Le Center manufacturing plant. The workers claim they were told to leave. The company says it only barred the workers from the plant floor until they complied with a new dress code.

Dianne’s instituted the new dress code after an accident in which a Somali employee’s long skirt got tangled in a boot-washing machine. Co-workers extricated her unharmed, but Dianne’s managers were worried they wouldn’t be so lucky the next time.

The new dress code requires skirts to be at least 15 inches from the floor. The workers protested, saying their religious beliefs forbid wearing skirts that short.

Before the accident, employees simply lifted their skirts while using the boot-washing machine.

The 30 workers who left filed for unemployment compensation and now investigators must determine whether they quit or were fired—and if they quit, did they quit for good reason?

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