DETROIT (WWJ) – The federal government is investigating claims by more than a dozen Muslim men who say they were asked to choose between their job and religion at a local company.
The group of 16 Muslim men say they involuntarily resigned from a Warren auto supplier, after claiming their employer refused to accommodate their observance of Ramadan.
A lawsuit is expected to be filed against the company.
Attorney Cary McGehee says the men asked their manager at Brose Automotive if they could take their meal breaks at 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. so they could break their day-long fast after sunset.
McGehee says the men turned in their badges when their supervisor made them choose between their religion and job.
“Under both the Federal and the State Civil Rights Act they are entitled to economic losses – back-pay, front-pay, emotional damages, attorney fees and costs and equitable relief, including reinstatement,” says McGehee. “These men lost their jobs, their livelihood, they all have families so this will likely be very financially damaging.”
McGehee says the change in break time wouldn’t have affected their production.
“They don’t work on a production line,” says McGehee. “They work on a machine, and they have an obligation to make a certain quota during the course of the shift — so they would work through their 7 o’clock unpaid lunch and then take their lunch at 9 p.m. after sunset .
In a statement, Brose Automotive says reasonably accommodating observant Muslims during Ramadan is not new but this year, the workers were not satisfied with its proposed accommodations. The company says they chose to walk off the job rather than discuss other accommodations that wouldn’t impact Brose’s production.