EEOC, Electrolux Reach Settlement

September 26, 2003 ( - The Electrolux Group has reached a settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a religious discrimination case filed by 165 Somali Muslim workers.

>Somali workers at the appliance manufacturer’s St. Cloud, Minnesota plant alleged unlawful discrimination when they were disciplined for using an unscheduled break traditionally offered to line employees on an as needed basis to observe their sunset prayer, one of five prayers they said their Islamic faith mandated throughout the day.    The EEOC then initiated the case after the Somali Community Center in Minneapolis brought the discrimination complaint, according to a news release.

Electrolux was praised by the EEOC as “a prime example of how employers should work cooperatively with the federal agency when subjected to a Charge of Discrimination,” resulting in a settlement that includes:

  • offering Muslim employees an opportunity to observe their sunset prayer.
  • a Somali translator at specified occasions and for policies and procedures to be available in Somali
  • diversity training for corporate managers, line leaders and supervisors
  • a monetary donation to the Islamic Center in St. Cloud to provide needed services to Somali families.

“We applaud Electrolux for being a model employer and for going beyond what is legally required to create a better work environment for all of its employees. I am pleased that we were able to work cooperatively to resolve this matter in a fair, efficient, and cost-effective manner without the need for further investigation,” said Chester Bailey, Director of the EEOC’s Milwaukee District Office, which has jurisdiction for Minnesota.

>The EEOC noted over the past decade, religious discrimination charge filings with EEOC offices nationwide have increased by 85% from 1,388 in fiscal year 1992 to 2,572 in fiscal year 2002.   This case is the latest in a long line of Muslim discrimination suit filed by the EEOC in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, including suits against: