News & Politics

Muslim Workers File Charges Against Amazon for Failing to Accommodate Their 'Religious Needs'

(Kyodo via AP Images)

Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) charges were filed on Tuesday against an Amazon warehouse by three workers alleging religious discrimination by the retail giant.

More from Muslim Advocates:

On Tuesday, three Somali Muslim women filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota alleging a broad pattern of civil rights violations by the company. The charges allege that Amazon violated Title VII by failing to accommodate Muslim employees’ religious needs, failing to promote Somali workers, and retaliating against workers who protested discrimination.

Among the complaints, the women claim that they were “denied adequate space and time to practice their religion.”

At work.

The litany of complaints includes the deliberate institution of a “two-tiered system” that deliberately keeps “qualified” Somali and East African workers from advancing upward.

There are no specifics offered as to why the workers were/are qualified, just that they are often passed over for promotion.

One worker describes how her problems began:

“Around the second week of my employment with Amazon, I received my first write-up for falling below the set packing rate. Because of this write-up, I stopped taking breaks to perform the required ablutions before prayer, and I avoided going to the bathroom in order to maintain my rate and avoid additional write-ups,”

Admittedly, it has been quite a while since I have worked in any capacity in the corporate world, but when I did, I tried not to let my personal (religious) life get in the way of my expected work duties, especially during the first couple of weeks on a job.

Amazon is a target-rich environment for lawsuits ever since it became the retail behemoth that it is now. It has been sued by delivery drivers who worked without breaks and pregnant women who alleged discrimination.

The complaints make it seem as if Bezos and company are running some sort of sweatshop environment right here in America.

On the Amazon side of things, the case can be made that the convenience people — including yours truly — pay for requires that things move quickly and can be demanding for workers.

As long as Amazon has seemingly all the money in the world, it is a pretty safe but that there will be plenty of lawyers hovering around disgruntled workers for a while.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the workers were suing Amazon. Instead, they filed charges with the EEOC, according to a press release from Muslim Advocates.