Lawsuit against JBS for unequal opportunity based on religion
JBS USA (“JBS”), a Greeley-based meatpacking company, was alleged to have been practicing discrimination against Muslim Employees in a federal court and has now headed towards a trial.
The case dates back to 2008, wherein the Somali Muslim Employees were terminated when they requested for breaks for their prayer during the Ramadan month, [see EEOC & Ors. v. JBS, USA, LLC, Civil Action No. 10-cv – 02103- PAB-KLM (2008)].
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2010 had filed two discrimination lawsuits against the company – one in Colorado and another in Nebraska which was decided in favor of the company.
According to EEOC, JBS’ behavior was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of religion and also required it’s employers to make reasonable accommodation for their employees’ religious beliefs and practices unless the company went through any hardships.
JBS claimed that the 2008 termination was a one-time event and it did not represent a wider pattern of religious discrimination and since then various steps had been taken by the company’s representatives such as accommodation for Muslim employees, provisions for prayer rooms in the Greeley facility, offered with the choice of switching shifts and allowing employees to pray before or after their shifts and during scheduled breaks. JBS’ spokesman Cameron Bruett was of the opinion:
“We believe we treat all our employees equally irrespective of their religious affiliation their race, their race, their gender”.
He further stated that since the 2008 termination, the company did not have any disruptions at the workplace during the period of Ramadan.
However, EEOC contended that the steps taken by the company were not enough and thus wanted the company to rearrange a break time which coincided with the prayer time and also allowing the Muslim employees to leave their posts for 10-15 minutes at their specific prayer time, which was to be considered as an unscheduled break.
Since the request for summary judgment by JBS was denied by the Colorado U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer, further trials would be conducted involving arguments by both the parties within 4-6 weeks.