Somalis walk off job at Minnesota dessert factory in protest of company's new burqa ban

Categories: Business, Religion
burqa.jpg
About 30 southern MN Somalis walked off the job after their employer instituted a burqa ban.
Somalis working at Dianne's Fine Desserts factory in Le Center aren't happy about their company's new burqa ban, and walked off the job Monday to signal their displeasure.

Three weeks ago, Dianne's was purchased by Mike Knowles, a Massachusetts-based businessman. A week later, a Somali woman working in the factory got the flowing cloth at the bottom of her burqa caught in a boot washer. Though she wasn't hurt, the incident prompted management to institute a new dress code banning unconstrained cloth below the knees.

Many of the 250 employees at the factory are Somali Muslims. Muslim women wear the loose-fitting, head-to-foot burqas at work because they aren't allowed to show skin other than faces and hands. Now, to remain in accordance with the dictates of their religion, they'll have to wear slacks or leggings under company-issued skirts.

Shamso Ali is a female Somali Muslim who works at Dianne's factory. She told the Faribault Daily News that as she prepared to begin her shift Monday morning while wearing a burqa, a manager approached her and told her to go change.

"I could not believe it was happening," Ali said. "They asked, 'Will you go change your skirt?' I said, 'No, I cannot.' 'Well, then you need to leave,' they said."

Ali eventually joined 10 other Somali women and about 20 Somali men in walking off the job.

Asher Ali, leader of the Somali Community Center in Faribault, characterized the company-issued skirts as "extremely high, they are way up there... It's like something a model would wear." His remarks ignore the possibility that, you know, Somali women could wear slacks or leggings and meet the dress code while abiding by their religion.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, employers must reasonably accommodate a worker's religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would cause undue hardship -- including compromising workplace safety.

Knowles, referring to the burqa-caught-in-boot washer incident, said, "when there's a safety incident like that you can't just ignore it... We addressed the safety issue by saying no skirts below the knee but that workers could wear slacks or pants and tuck them into their boots."

As for the 30 or so workers who walked off the job Monday, Knowles wouldn't tell the Daily News whether their jobs will still be waiting for them if they decide to return to work.

"People can't just walk off the job," he said.  

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12 comments
shonuffpcrepair
shonuffpcrepair

Fucking Fire them please.  If they dont want to submit to dress code set forth by the company fire them this isnt fucking somalia they need to get that.  There are other people who will work there who aren't Somalians hire them.

Smurfy8277
Smurfy8277

The US is starting to look like a third world country. This is ridiculous.

jfk1623
jfk1623

LOL

 

so we let these useless peasants into America, ON OUR GOOD WILL

 

and the peasants want to bite the hand that LITERALLY feeds them

 

send them back

Richard Garyson
Richard Garyson

 This is why laws mandating that employer's accommodate religious should be repealed. I am not suggesting that employer's should never accommodate religious beliefs, but they should be able to choose at their discretion what they will accommodate and to what degree.

Richard Garyson
Richard Garyson

Knowles has my sympathy. He is damned either way. If a Muslim woman suffers an injury from her burqa getting entangled in a machine, he will be sued. If he bans burqas to prevent such injuries, he will be sued. When tries to make some very reasonable and gracious accommodations to their attire, which would retain their modesty and decrease the likelihood of injuries,  they walk off the job in protest. If he dares hire workers to replace them, he will be sued. Even the Muslim men, who are ironically enough allowed to dress in anyway they want like everyone else, and not impacted by the change in dress code, are walking off the job in protest. You know this is over the top, when even Aaron Rupar concedes that they "ignore the possibility that, you know, Somali women could wear slacks or leggings and meet the dress code while abiding by their religion." As a libertarian, I believe that is high time we scrap laws that require employers to make "reasonable" accommodations for their employees' religious beliefs (as well as any other laws that compel employers to work with employees that they would rather layoff or fire). It is highly likely that Knowles will face a very costly lawsuit. A lawsuit that will hurt his business and potentially put it in jeopardy, which would also put the other 220 employees i jeopardy. Freedom to associate is essential the success and happiness of both our private and business life. We need to restore to businesses,

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

One of them go caught in a machine a few week back.  Just wait till OSHA get involved in this.  They won't give "tolerance" or flexibility to ANYONE for ANYTHING. Good luck ACLU...

LizzieTookAnAxe
LizzieTookAnAxe

Somalis are the most ungrateful immigrants I have EVER encountered.  Their rudeness is epic.  You would think they would kiss the ground they are walking on and be thankful they are here and have the CHOICE to work.  But noooooooooo, instead all they do is bitch.  I firmly believe they take those jobs knowing it doesn't jibe with their barbaric religious belief so they can sue.  And to anyone here who throws the "bigot/race" card by way, save your breath.  Playing the race card is just an excuse for excusing bad behavior, it has ZERO meaning as it has been overplayed.

guest
guest

It might help if you learn how to spell opportunities. 

Speer
Speer

In so many (too many) cultures, the religious dress rules seem to apply only to the women.  Even in the report I saw on this, the Somali translator (male) wore jeans and a T-shirt.

madhamster
madhamster

if you cant follow the safety rules then your religion just gave me  30 new job opportunitys thanks  

Erica
Erica

I think the company is right about this ban. It is about employee safety, especially when one is working in a factory. Don't like the ban, find a new job. I bet there are other people who would gladly take the jobs the Somalis' walked off from.

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