Sixteen former employees of US auto supplier Brose Jefferson are reportedly suing the company for religious discrimination after they say they were forced to "involuntarily resign”.
It comes after the Michigan-based company told the men their request for a change in their meal break time during Ramadan could not be accommodated, according to Michigan Radio.
The men reportedly made the request in May to take their meal break at 9pm, rather than the standard 7pm.
The men worked a 2pm to 10pm shift, and asked for the meal break to be pushed to after sundown at 9pm, when Muslims are able to break their fast.
But according to their legal representatives, their employer told them the request would not be accommodated, and they would have to choose whether their religion or their jobs were more important. The men unanimously resigned following the incident.
Cary McGehee, one of the lawyers representing the men, said: "The law is very clear that an employer has an obligation to provide its employees with reasonable accommodation related to their religious beliefs, and [Brose] failed to do so in this case.””From our independent investigation and from the discussions with our clients, there was no difference in production needs this year that would make it unduly burdensome for the company to provide this accommodation.”
Brose Jefferson said in a statement it "carefully considers” the needs of its employees and said it would "vigorously defend” any claims brought against the company.
"Brose Jefferson’s workforce is one of the most racially, ethnically, gender, generationally and religiously diverse workplaces in Michigan,” the company said.
"Unfortunately, this year, a small percentage of Muslim production and temporary agency workers were not satisfied with Brose’s proposed accommodations during Ramadan. They chose to walk off the job rather than discuss other accommodations that would not unduly impact Brose’s production.
"Brose does not intend to litigate this matter in the press, but does contend that the facts as stated in press release issued by the former workers’ attorneys are incorrect.”