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Muslim Prayer in Nebraska

Posted by Tamara

Muslim employees in Nebraska and all other states in the U.S. must be allowed to take prayer breaks during the workday.

It is federal law. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, anything else would be discrimination in the workplace and therefore illegal.

The law says that employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for any employee’s religious practice, provided the accommodation does not amount to an “undue hardship.”

Examples will help clarify the two terms. Allowing a Muslim worker to take a few minutes several times a day to pray would be a “reasonable accommodation.” On the other hand, hiring an additional employee to fill the gaps during the worker’s prayer time would no doubt constitute “undue hardship.”

Providing Muslim women employees with loose-fitting uniform pants rather than miniskirts would be a “reasonable accommodation.” Replacing the miniskirts with a $10,000 designer wardrobe would be an “undue hardship.”

As can be seen in the examples, “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship” are likely to describe the amount of cost involved.

Followers of the Islamic faith are required by their religion to pray, facing east, five specific times during the day. Often, an employer provides a quiet room for the practice of faith. The room could be used as well by members of other faiths, as a place for silent retreats, for example.

The law only applies to what it calls “sincerely held” religious beliefs. In other words, if employee “John” claims to be Jewish on a Jewish holiday, Muslim on an Islamic holiday, and Christian on Christmas simply to get time off for all of the holidays, these would very likely not constitute “sincerely held” beliefs.

For a better perspective on the subject, employers would be advised to remember that cigarette smokers are being granted breaks throughout the day to practice their addiction. The amount of time they spend outside the building puffing on a cigarette may far exceed the time taken by a Muslim worker to practice their faith.

Generally, employers do not consider it any of their concern what an employee does on his or her break.


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