The Hertz car rental operation at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport faces charges it discriminated against Muslim employees and harassed them. The employees, who worked cleaning vehicles, claimed managers would routinely walk in on their prayers demanding to see the employees’ badges.
They also claim managers made disparaging remarks about Islam and imposed higher standards on practicing Muslims than other employees.
According to one of the plaintiffs, the workers had no problems until 2007 when new managers began harassing them. Many of the Hertz workers are of East African heritage.
Six former workers are seeking class status after filing individual EEOC complaints alleging illegal activities from 2008 to 2011. An EEOC investigation determined the workers were “harassed and terminated” because they are black, Muslim or both, and were fired in retaliation for opposing discrimination.
The EEOC issued the fired workers “right to sue” letters, but elected not to sue on the workers’ behalf.
The plaintiffs also allege managers changed an existing prayer policy, restricting prayers to specific times and forbade workers from praying on their lunch break. They sayrequired Muslims to sign the policy, which stated that failure to abide by its terms could result in discipline. All six refused to sign it.
Note: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodation of employee’s religious practices. Employers that refuse or change an accommodation that appears to be working must demonstrate that the accommodation would create an undue hardship on their business operations.