Its going on all across the country. Local business hires Muslims, then Muslims demand changes in workplace rules to accommodate their so-called religious requirements. Last month it happened at a DHL mail sorting facility at CVG airport in Northern Kentucky but the full page story only appeared today in the Kentucky Enquirer. The source of the reporter's background information is unclear and he raised no questions to contest the accuracy of the Muslims complaints. He could well have been writing his story from a handout given to him by the local chapter of CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, who has taken up the case on behalf of the fired workers. The facts in the case are simple. For the last few years a group of 24 Somali Muslims working at DHL were allowed by their supervisor to take a special 5-minute break on their shift to gather and say evening prayers according to their religion. Then a new supervisor came on the shift, which starts at 6 PM and refused the workers saying the earliest break time they could stop work to pray was at 8:00PM. So the entire Muslim group decided to walk off the job at 7:24PM one night to go and pray and the supervisor fired them for insubordination. He did not fire them for praying, he fired them for refusing to go back to work.UPDATED at 7:00 PM
The Enquirer story contains some factual errors regarding the prayer time requirements. If DHL doesn't cave in to the ex-workers demands then these facts go to the heart of the pending lawsuit. There is no religious requirement to stop and pray at a specific time. One worker is quoted in the story saying: "We do not have a choice. We must stop what we are doing and pray." Not being a Muslim I went to research the demand over the daily Islamic prayer schedule and found an interesting explanation about Salat (the daily prayers) on Wikipedia.
You will see in this explanation that the five daily prayers are not assigned a specific time but an associated event. The Dhuhr is performed in midday after the sun has passed its highest point. This is followed by the Asr, the evening prayer, sometime before sunset, then the Maghrib prayer after sunset and the Isha prayer in the night time. So there is nothing in the religion that says the workers could not have performed their night time prayers at 8:00 PM or some time after.Salat consists of five daily prayers according to the Sunna; the names are according to the prayer times: Fajr (dawn), Dhuhr (noon), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (evening), and Isha' (night). The Fajr prayer is performed before sunrise, Dhuhr is performed in the midday after the sun has surpassed its highest point, Asr is the evening prayer before sunset, Maghrib is the evening prayer after sunset and Isha is the night prayer.
But these demands are just that. One fact the reporter wrote about said that in 2012 Muslims filed 785 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In March, the Columbus, Ohio chapter of CAIR filed another discrimination on behalf of 18 Muslims who were fired from a DHL subsidiary for also stopping work to pray.
Too many companies knuckle under when faced with religion-based discrimination complaints from the EEOC, even when they may be right. Female Muslim employees who sign employment agreements to comply with company dress codes in retail businesses environments and later want to alter the dress code and wear a hijab or other form of Islamic attire have lost their jobs only to win their cases when CAIR has brought a lawsuit. Had they refused to sign the agreements they would not have been hired so they basically lied to get the job. And considering the number of Islamic attacks that have occurred in America in the last 12 years and the thousands that have happened overseas, there is nothing more unsettling than seeing someone in Muslim attire in the confined area of a small shop.
CAIR representative from Cincinnati interviewed on WKRC-TV channel 12 on the 6 o'clock News says that Salat prayer times must be performed within an hour of the specified time. Have checked this further and found this info from CAIR does not conform to info on Wikipedia. The following details are more concise than the previous information mentioned above. Note the precise definition for Isha night prayer which is the one that involved the Muslims at DHL. This confirms that those Muslims had several hours in which to perform this ritual and not at the specific time they chose to walk off their jobs.
"The Isha'a prayer starts when the red light is gone from the western sky, and lasts until the rise of the "white light" (fajar sadiq) in the east. The preferred time for Isha'a is before midnight, meaning halfway between sunset and sunrise."
Five daily prayersThe five daily prayers are obligatory (fard) and they are performed at times determined essentially by the position of the Sun in the sky. Hence, salat times vary at different locations on the Earth.
Fajr (pre-dawn)The Fajr prayer starts before the sun rises, and lasts until sunrise.
Dhuhr (midday)The Dhuhr prayer starts after the sun passes its [zenith], and lasts until Asr
Asr (afternoon)The Asr prayer starts when the shadow of an object is the same length as the object itself (or, according to Hanafi fiqh, twice its length) and lasts till sunset. Asr can be split into two sections; the preferred time is before the sun starts to turn orange, while the time of necessity is from when the sun turns orange until sunset.
Maghrib (sunset)The Maghrib prayer begins when the sun sets, and lasts till the red light has left the sky in the west.
Isha'a (night)The Isha'a prayer starts when the red light is gone from the western sky, and lasts until the rise of the "white light" (fajar sadiq) in the east. The preferred time for Isha'a is before midnight, meaning halfway between sunset and sunrise.
UPDATED November 8, 2013
The arguments presented by CAIR reps contradict the facts. Here is the Islamic prayer times for Cincinnati, Ohio which is relavent to Hebron, Kentucky where the DHL facility is located. The complaint filed by CAIR with the EEOC does not mention which particular prayer time the Muslim employees were concerned with missing but the two last prayers on the date given, October 9th, are all within the one-hour time frame of the 8:00PM break period. It was the CAIR rep who admitted during the TV interview that the Muslims had one hour in which to comply with the prayer schedule.
Prayer Times Schedule
Month: 10/2013, 11-12 / 1434 A.H
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA
Calculation Method: North America Juristic Method: Standard