EEOC Settles Two Religious Discrimination Cases

April 1, 2009 ( - A federal judge has approved settlement agreements in two religious discrimination lawsuits against a St. Cloud, Minnesota-based chicken processor and an employment agency.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said the agreements came from U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeanne J. Graham.

According to the announcement, under the decree approved in the Gold’n Plump case, the employer will add a paid break during the second half of each shift to accommodate the religious beliefs of Muslim employees who wish to pray in the course of the work day. The break is in addition to a break early in the shift and lunch breaks which are required by law, the EEOC said.

“Employers need to recognize the increasing diversity of religion in our country and provide accommodations as required by federal employment discrimination laws,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru, in the announcement. “Systemic cases such as these make workplaces better for many individuals.”

Gold’n Plump will also provide $215,000 to a class of 128 Somali American Muslims who claimed religious discrimination, including discharge and discipline.

The EEOC said an additional $150,000 will be paid to 28 class members under the consent decree entered in EEOC v. The Work Connection, with the amounts ranging from $200 to $18,880 per person.

The EEOC had alleged in EEOC v. The Work Connection that, in order to be referred for work at Gold’n Plump’s facilities in Cold Spring, Minnesota, and Arcadia, Wisconsin, applicants were required to sign a form stating that they would not refuse to handle pork in the course of their jobs.

In addition to stopping use of the “pork form,” The Work Connection will provide each of the 28 class members, job seekers previously turned away for refusing to sign the “pork form,” with an offer for placement at Gold’n Plump.