UPDATE: DHL Global Mail responded Friday to CAIR's allegations, saying they're unfounded. The company denied any wrongdoing and said it would fully defend itself in any future action. DHL also said it accommodates reasonable religious practices and provides equal opportunities to all employees.
HERE'S THE STORY FROM THURSDAY:
The Cincinnati chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is filing a federal complaint on behalf of 24 former employees at the DHL Global Mail facility in Hebron, Kentucky. The Muslim civil rights group says DHL fired the workers last month in a dispute over prayer breaks.
CAIR's complaint, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said the workers were exercising religious rights protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment. It also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee , unless doing so would cause an undue hardship for the company.
"In this case, the DHL workers had been using their break time to perform their evening prayer," said CAIR-Cincinnati Staff Attorney Booker Washington. "The company reportedly decided to eliminate flexible break time, thereby preventing the men and women from practicing their faith. When the workers asserted their rights, they were all fired."
The workers were fired October 9.
"They should think this over and they should know that religion is religion, there's no choice to it," said Shahira Abdullah, one of the 13 women and 11 men the company let go. "Other people have to follow the rules, just like we're supposed to follow their rules."