In a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the USA on August 31, 2010, supervisors and co-workers of JBS Swift, a meat-packing company with facilities in Greeley, Colorado and Grand, Island Nebraska, had allegedly hurled offensive terms at the Muslim and Somalian employees. The complaint charged the company of religious and national origin discrimination.
The complaint had taken its toll on the victims when many Somalian and Muslim employees were fired allegedly in retaliation. Since December 2007, JBS Swift & Co. has always been implicated in many cases of religious discrimination, violating the civil rights of hundreds of workers left and right. The EEOC complaint alleged that the company also created a hostile environment for the Muslim workers when they were not given the chance to practice their religious rites the way they used to, especially during their holy month.
Muslim employees in Greeley, Colorado requested their superintendents that their dinner break be moved from 9:15 to 7:30 p.m. to observe Ramadan, but the Swift management recanted its initial decision after two days of allowing them to do so. The company went on to shut off the water fountains, which prevented the Muslim workers from drinking water after a 12-hour fasting.
Furthermore, the lawsuit accused JBS Swift of tolerating its managers and supervisors to throw blood, meat and bones to Somali and Muslim workers. They were also subjected to anti-black and anti-Muslim graffiti in the bathrooms, an obviously reprehensible violation against human rights. The harassment was “sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the terms and conditions of employment,” the EEOC charged. EEOC alleged that managers both participated in and failed to step in to end such illegal behaviors.
“This is a case that even after 31 years of practicing law, gives me the goosebumps and that chilling feeling. We need to take it to vindicate worker civil rights,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, a veteran EEOC regional attorney inwho is representing the Colorado workers.
This illegal treatment of JBS Swift is a grave violation and with malice to federal laws of the United States protecting equal rights for all workers, or mind only rights of workers. The EEOC alleged that the company seemed resolve not to put an end to this discriminatory and illegal actions.
However, JBS spokesman Chandler Keys expressed counter statements to the claims of EEOC, adding that the company even collaborated with all the employees, including the Muslims, to improve its working conditions. He disputed further the allegations that the company had gravely maltreated its Muslim employees during their observance of Ramadan.
“JBS Swift is a legitimate company and we defend ourselves vigorously. We’ve made accommodations for their prayers within the limits of our production scenario. We certainly honor and respect their religion,” Rich Vista, president of JBS Beef North America, said.
The other lawsuit filed by EEOC against the Grand Island facility of the company exposed how JBS Swift maltreated its Somali employees in instances when they were subjected to hostile work environment with comments like “f—” and “go back to your country.”
Of all complaints of religious discrimination filed with EEOC, Muslim workers constituted 25 per cent. It resulted in the discrimination charges soaring up to 75 per cent this decade.