Cargill Fires Muslims At Fort Morgan Plant Over Prayer Dispute Walkout

Posted 6:31 a.m. | Updated 11:15 a.m.

About 150 workers, most of them immigrants from Somalia, have been fired from a Colorado meat packing plant after walking off the job during a dispute over workplace prayer.

The Denver Post reports that after about 200 workers walked off their jobs at Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan earlier this month. Jaylani Hussein, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that depending on the season, the Muslim workers prayed at different times of the day. But a decision was made at the plant to change the practice.

From the Dec. 22, Fort Morgan Times:

Many of the plant's Somali employees claim that ever since Friday, their bosses have not allowed them to take the five-minute breaks for prayer that their Muslim faith requires them to observe every day. They left the plant at around 3 p.m. yesterday and are threatening to quit for good if the rules don't change.

Hussein says that on Tuesday, Minnesota-based Cargill fired most of the workers who walked out. The AP says Cargill representatives couldn't be reached Wednesday night.

CAIR says it tried without success to reach an accommodation with Cargill in a conference call Wednesday. The organization says that it helped resolve similar situations in 2008 at Swift plants in Greeley and Nebraska.

Last week, Cargill spokesman Mike Martin told the Greeley Tribune that because employees work on an assembly line, only one or two at a time can use a prayer area.