Dianne's Fine Desserts harassed Somalis, used racial slurs, says CAIR
About 45 Somali workers walked off their work site because they refused to follow a new dress code mandating that workers roll up their skirts so they are "15 inches from the ground," which some are calling a "burqa ban." CAIR's president says that new policy was merely a pretext for something more sinister.
"We have more going on here than just a new dress code," Lori Saroya told the Faribault Daily News. "We're hearing about an extremely hostile work environment that they've been dealing with. We're hearing the dress code was created to target the Somali employees because the company knew they couldn't comply with it so they could get rid of them. Many of these people are reporting being subjected to other forms of harassment, and it's shocking."
Beyond the new dress code, Saroya claimed that racial slurs like "monkey" were being thrown around. Her organization is going to file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"We're taking this very seriously," she said. "We work on a basic premise of making sure everyone is treated with respect and dignity. When we hear someone is being called a 'monkey' in Minnesota in 2012, that is something we just can't tolerate."
That allegation was denied by Dianne's owner, Mike Knowles, who told the Daily News his company is open to its Somali employees.
"We were accommodating even before this incident, and since then we are simply asking our female workers to roll up their skirts so they are 15 inches from the floor," Knowles responded. "They can wear pants or slacks under their dresses, that's not a problem."
All of the workers have received termination letters, Saroya said.
Knowles said Dianne's has hired people to replace at least a portion of the workers already while keeping the demographics about the same. Many have already been replaced, according to Knowles's comments in the Daily News.
"We have hired a number of diverse workers who are willing to abide by the new safety rules. We're continuing to run the plant and keep things going. We are getting new applicants every day," Knowles said. He pledged full cooperation with the EEOC and said he looks forward "to the opportunity for the truth to come out."