Nearly two dozen Muslim Somali-Americans are filing discrimination charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity against hardware maker AmesburyTruth and Doherty Staffing Solutions.
The fired workers said they were denied a place to pray at an Owatonna, Minn., manufacturing plant and lost their jobs for trying to practice their religion.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is leading the effort on behalf of 21 former workers who were terminated in May and June 2015.
The employees were told that if they could not comply with the plant's break schedule or could not wait until their shifts were over to pray, they could not continue working, according to the council, which goes by the acronym CAIR-MN and is a member of the nation's largest Islamic civil liberties advocacy group.
A number of workers were told to go home and wait for the company to make accommodations but were never called back to work, according to CAIR-MN. Some employees were fired for "violating the bathroom policy" by spilling water on the floor.
Followers of Islam pray five times each day — at daybreak, midday, afternoon, sunset and at night. Before prayer, Muslims are required to wash their faces, hands and feet with clean water, which normally is performed in a restroom sink.