March 19, 2007

Muslim cashiers refuse to touch pork

H/t to The Corner for this: Do Muslim cashiers at Target have a right to refuse to check pork products? Based on what I've read and understand, not if retail chain doesn't wish it.

Some [Minnesota] Muslim cashiers had declined to scan products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or some customers scanned the items themselves.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. (TGT) has offered the cashiers the option of wearing gloves, shifting to other positions or transferring to other stores.

"We are confident that this is a reasonable solution for our guests and team members," Target spokeswoman Paula Thornton-Greear said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Is this a fair compromise? Yes. Religion-workplace law essentially dictates that employers must make "reasonable accommodations" for their employees' religious beliefs. Federal law mandates this for employers with over 15 workers; however, individual state laws may add further stipulations.

If an employer claims that he cannot accommodate an employee (or employees), he would have to demonstrate that the potential accommodation would harm his business. And, the employer does not have to agree to an accommodation asked for by an employee. (Ansonia Board of Education v. Philbrook, 479 U.S. 60 [1986]). Target's accommodations are clearly reasonable; wearing gloves or taking a different position within a store certainly fall into the "reasonable" criteria. (I'm a bit confused, however, about how "transferring to another store" would solve the issue at hand.) If I were the manager of a Target where some of my cashiers were asking customers to check some items themselves and/or requesting other cashiers to handle certain items, I'd absolutely make use of the above accommodations. The two "pre-accommodation" options utilized by the Muslim cashiers are obviously bad for business. And Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63 (1977), would back up my position as it noted "that an employer need not incur more than minimal costs in order to accommodate an employee’s religious practices." (My emphasis.) However, one recent development -- the "Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2005" -- seems to be in conflict with this, but is unlikely to hinder Target's accommodation plan. Under this amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the definition of "undue [employer] hardship" says

... an accommodation requiring significant difficulty or expense. For purposes of determining whether an accommodation requires significant difficulty or expense, factors to be considered in making the determination shall include--

(A) the identifiable cost of the accommodation, including the costs of loss of productivity and of retraining or hiring employees or transferring employees from 1 facility to another;

(B) the overall financial resources and size of the employer involved, relative to the number of its employees; and

(C) for an employer with multiple facilities, the geographic separateness or administrative or fiscal relationship of the facilities.

Supreme Court precedent is usually likely to prevail over recent law, though. Usually, that is.

Suhara Robla, who works at a SuperTarget, told the Star Tribune newspaper that more than a dozen Muslim cashiers were asked Thursday to do other jobs.

"They told all of us who don't touch pork to go to the sales floor," she told the newspaper. "They really didn't say why. They just said it was a new policy."

Well, if you're refusing to check pork products at the register, what do you think, Ms. Robla? And, of course it's a new policy -- it's a new policy designed to meet your religious needs. If you are unhappy with the "accommodation," it seems you have two options: Find another job, or you can file a lawsuit claiming Target's accommodations were "unreasonable." But you'll likely lose. As noted previously, an employer does not have to agree to an employee's wish for accommodation, just as long as the employment modification meets the "reasonable" standard.

Minnesota witnessed something similar back in September. Some Muslim taxi drivers were refusing to drive patrons who were carrying alcohol products. That case would be more difficult to "accomodate" as there's no other position to "move to" like at a retail store such as Target. That, and taxis would seem to fall under the realm of "public accommodation" (say, like a hotel) where people cannot be discriminated against -- in this case for carrying around a quite legal product. The airports commission there recommended "color-coding the lights on the taxi roofs" to note whether or not a taxi would accept those carrying alcohol. This seems reasonable to me; however, what if the majority of taxis available have the no-alcohol color on top -- thus leaving passenger(s) stranded for an inordinate amount of time? The Anti-Defamation League website notes that a [potential] employee "should" inform the employer "about the religious commitment at the time the job is accepted or immediately upon becoming observant if he or she becomes more observant while employed." I am curious if the Muslim cab drivers -- and the Target employees -- made their employers so aware.

In another interesting case, Albert Buonanno was axed from his job because he refused "to compromise his religiously-based belief that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong." His employer, AT&T, did not attempt to accommodate Buonanno's beliefs, however. And, it seems they "discovered" Albert's views when they mandated that he (and other employees, I assume) sign a statement that "he 'respected and valued' different 'sexual orientations' in the workplace." The article doesn't detail how Buonanno's views would have affected his work, let alone whether it would ever have been an issue at all.

A federal court ruled in Buonanno's favor.

Posted by Hube at March 19, 2007 05:34 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

it should be interesting to see how they handle this one. I find it a little amusing that target has to deal with this seeing as to how they have bent over backwards for the pharmacists that don't want to give birth control...

Posted by: donviti at March 20, 2007 04:58 PM

How did they bend over backwards?

How can Muslim women cashiers ring up men they are not married or related to? Likewise the men?

How can they ring up mouthwash? It has alcohol?

What if the store has music? That's haraam as well.

Can they ring up movies or music that is considered sinful?

Magazine covers like Cosmopolitan have scantily clad women, why is that permitted?

Posted by: Duffy at March 21, 2007 08:55 AM

TAQQIYAH. These people are not immigrants, they are invaders. They have no desire or intent to assimilate into America; their purpose is to lie, to deceive, and to use the American legal system in a perverted and evil way to impose sharia law on the world. Their JIHAD continues to make progress with the assistance of celebrities, of the media, and of power-seeking politicos who spew their hate for all things American/Military/Republican/Bush, Muslims will continue to impose their restrictions and pseudo-religious anarchy on the government, commerce, and freedoms of America until Americans push back - hard.

TARGET Target! No Porky - No Shoppy!

Posted by: twolaneflash at March 21, 2007 01:31 PM

In my hypothetical store, if you're too short to reach up and stock a shelf I'll provide a stepladder. That's an accommodation. If you suffer from vertigo on that stepladder, I'll find something else for you to do. That's an accommodation - or a reason why I wouldn't have hired you to stock shelves in the first place. Now, if you're a Muslim who won't touch pork even sealed up in plastic wrap, the gloves aren't likely to make you happy. If I think you're just being obstinate to make a point about your personal value system, your ass is out the door.

Posted by: G Rex at March 22, 2007 10:00 AM

Ah, Taqiyyah says the hysteric.

In the real world, the precious fools like those mentioned in the arty are a minority. Most Muslims I have direct dealing with, in MENA and in Europe, have zero issues handling pork, dogs, etc.

Those who do largely fall into two categories:
(i) Superstitious half-educated rural people whose religion is largely folk-belief, and whose refusals in such areas are largely innocent although pitiful ignorance and;
(ii) Neo-Salafi jihadist bigots who indeed do deserve the kind of scorn being heaped upon them.

The first category is educatable, and painting with a broad brush merely pushes them toward the Neo-Salafist terrorist brigade. The second category deserves police supervision and deportation (or imprisonment in case of citizens) when they cross the line.

Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 23, 2007 02:17 PM

Yeah, right! Move along now, no TAQQIYAH here, just a few ignorant, third-world bigots and idiots practicing a little islamic jihad on American commerce, transportation, public life! All those fine muslims in places like Saudi Arabia, are fine with you Christian and Jewish Americans practicing your religion/democracy/personal freedom on their soil. Go ahead, just try it and show us once again just how tolerant this death-worshipping oppressor of women and "infidels" is. This stone-age belief system is incompatible with democracy, freedom of religion and speech , civil liberties, and rule of law. The indiscriminate acceptance that the beliefs and writings of this cult are equal to Christian and Jewish beliefs and writings is evil/wrong/failed. YouTube has an excellent video on Liberal-think:

Posted by: twolanrflash at March 26, 2007 03:40 PM

But but INFIDELS are just as Najis (unclean)as pork. How can they ring up anyone but other Muslims?
Your comment could not be submitted because the follwing text matched an entry in our spam filter: angelfire dot com
www.angelfire dot com/ky/kentuckydan/CommitteesofCorrespondence/ Najis Unclean Things

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at April 1, 2007 02:13 AM