Friday, June 06, 2008

CAIR Charges: 'Somali Factory Women Forced to Work Naked!'

Today's Detroit News reprinted this from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Islamic dress dispute may cost six jobs

Women ordered to wear pants, shirts instead of loose-fitting skirts file religious bias complaint.

Chris Serres / Minneapolis Star Tribune

Six Somali women claim they were ordered by the manager of a suburban Twin Cities food-processing plant to wear pants and shirts to work instead of their traditional Islamic clothing of loose-fitting skirts and scarves, says the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil liberties group representing the women.

The women have filed a religious discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Read the rest here.

It’s closer to the truth that these women weren’t being “ordered” to discard their traditional garb and change into pants and shirts, but required to comply with the company’s rule about wearing work uniforms—a rule I’m willing to bet was in force when these 6 took these jobs--and obeyed by everybody else in the place.

Fortunately for employers like these, the federal Civil Rights Act only demands employers make accommodations for religious considerations that are “reasonable,” and that don't create an “undue hardship.” That saves a lot of frivolous demands. Or at least it used to before 9/11.

It also keeps the American workplace from being held hostage by employees insisting they can stop work 5 times a day—(on an ever-shifting schedule determined by the religious authorities)—so that Muslim employees can pray. Just as important, the “reasonable accommodation” standard doesn't interefere with employers putting in place common-sense workplace safety rules, like requiring all employees to wear clothing that presents the lowest risk of accidents in a mechanized environment.

And the law also requires employees wanting to be accommodated to keep their requests to what is reasonable.

But would you be surprised to learn that the word “reasonable” is nowhere to be found in the index of the CAIR Field Manual? That's why we keep hearing things from CAIR like this:

"For these women, wearing tight-fitting pants is like being naked," said Valerie Shirley, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota chapter of CAIR. "It's simply not an option."

Wearing pants is like being naked? Not an option? Anytime you're getting told something is simply not an option, you can bet you aren't party to a reasonable conversation.

I find it highly unlikely that the uniforms these women are being asked to wear are tight-fitting or immodest. I never saw anything too sexy in my long toilsome years in blue-collar life.

On the other hand, in an industrial environment with power machinery and conveyors, flowing garments — especially headscarves that hang around the neck—have got to be the risk-management equivalent of playing Russian roulette with six loaded chambers instead of one. Though the company spokeswoman didn’t have pictures of the uniforms to pass out, (and why would she, after all?), I’m confident the uniforms won’t turn out to be anything like employees wear at Hooters.

Nor is the fact that CAIR is hiding these women away from the press any assurance that the whole thing isn't bunk dreamed up by CAIR.

Almost anyone can file an EEOC charge. All you have to do is fill out a form, and then you can accuse anyone of anything without any evidence at all. It’s only after the EEOC has done some initial evaluating that they may determine, (and in more than 95% of cases they do determine), that there’s no evidence of employer discrimination and turn the charge back.

But CAIR knows that just the bare news in itself that some Islamic women somewhere in America are crying discrimination to any tribunal anywhere will give them a headline. A headline, and what they want even more--one more anecdote to add to their ever-growing saga about the hell endured each day by Muslims in America.

Since they haven’t got enough real stories of discrimination to fill out that epic tale, (an almost miraculously small number, in fact), they have to manufacture what they need.

Exaggerating the avalanche of Islamophobia is what this is all about. As reported in the Minnesota Star Tribune:

Such disputes have intensified as the American Muslim community grows in numbers and becomes more politically organized, said Thomas Berg, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. "After 9/11, both the number of conflicts arose but also the sense among Muslims that they needed to stand together -- at least to oppose unjustified actions," he said.

To which the question should be asked, (but somehow never is): What unjustified actions? Making food packers wear work uniforms?

Does anyone else wonder if maybe the number of “conflicts” isn't increasing because Muslims are deliberately looking for fights with their employers? Anyway, the best the Star Trib reporter can offer us by way of past “unjustified actions” supposed to shame our guilty consciences are these:

Last year in Minnesota, some Muslim cashiers at Target Corp. were shifted to other positions inside stores after they refused to scan pork products because doing so would violate their religious beliefs. And in 2005, 26 workers were either fired or suspended by an Arden Hills electronics manufacturer for violating the company's prayer rules, which set limits on the times they could break for prayers.

Be certain the EEOC will dump this case pretty soon as not worth the time and expense to investigate.

When that happens you won’t hear about it in a news story.

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