Muslim employees get more time for prayers

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Of The Patriot-News

Somali immigrants who quit work at Arnold Logistics in Hampden Twp. because of a “misunderstanding” are back on the job, with accommodation for their daily prayers, a Muslim advocacy group says.

The warehouse and distribution services company has agreed to provide a 15-minute break for Muslim prayer, according to the Pennsylvania office of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

CAIR said 16 machine operators walked off their jobs on Jan. 9 “after a misunderstanding over a new policy which limited personal breaks for all employees to five minutes.”

Madina Hasson of Mechanicsburg, a nurse who volunteers as a community organizer among midstate Somali immigrants, contacted Justin Peyton, director of civil rights for CAIR in Philadelphia.

They met Jan. 11 with Amy Rafferty, human resources director for Arnold Logistics, to explain that five minutes was too short for the daily prayers required of Muslims.

The workers had been unable to make their case because of a “language barrier,” Peyton said Friday.

He said Rafferty “graciously listened” and relayed the workers’ concerns to senior managers, who offered this week to rehire all 16 and provide them time each day for prayer.

About half the employees returned to Arnold. The rest had found other work, Peyton said.

Efforts to reach Rafferty were unsuccessful Friday.

MARY WARNER: 255-8267 or [email protected]

©2008 The Patriot-News© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

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