The workers at an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota are up in arms protesting. They claim their employer has work requirements in place that are so rigorous they do not have adequate time to pray. Oh, we forgot to mention the workers are Muslims, of the Islamic faith.
It would seem that in an effort to perform their jobs, for which they were hired, the Muslims claim they are struggling to adhere to their religious requirements that they pray five times a day. One such worker, a 28-year-old woman, stated that the Muslin employees are having to use their bathroom breaks in an effort to adhering to the required number times they have to pray, and still, do their work. She also stated:
“Breaks make our rate slow down, and then we’d be at risk of getting fired, and so most of the time we choose prayer over a bathroom break, and have learned to balance our bodily needs.”
As a result, the whole issue came to a head, finding the employees protesting outside the Minnesota Amazon fulfillment location on Friday. Their demands are that the Amazon location provides Muslim employees better workplace conditions.
In a report by Gizmodo: “Friday's protest was intended to pressure Amazon to not only improve working conditions and allow for proper religious expression but to create a fund that addresses racial disparities in the community and set up an independent review body for HR complaints.”
Joining in the protest, for what some believe to be for publicity for her campaign, was representative elect Ilhan Omar—who is the first Somali-American representative in the US Congress representing Minnesota. Omar told the assembled protesters: “Amazon doesn’t work if you don’t work, and its about time we make Amazon understand that.”
Amazon replied, stating that their policy includes that prayer breaks that last less than twenty minutes are paid for and their productivity expectations are in no way adjusted for these breaks. They also stated that any employee is welcome to put in a request for an unpaid prayer break, that they feel will last over the paid twenty minutes, for which productivity expectations would be adjusted.
This is the not the first Muslims have protested at this particular Minnesota based Amazon fulfillment facility. In June of last year, during the Islam nation’s holy month of Ramadan, Muslim workers spoke up in protest, citing what they termed as unfair and dangerous workloads. Their issue was with the fact that during Ramadan, according to their religion, they had to fast, and as such were too weak and exhausted to meet productivity expectations.
So, what's the verdict--you decide.
Should Amazon make accommodates and exceptions for those Muslims of Islamic faith?