MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A group of Muslim airport workers claim they were fired for praying on the job. However, the company they work for says they were never actually let go.
Tuesday, Fox 9 caught up with a group of Muslim Americans filing a religious discrimination complaint at the Minneapolis Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They claim they were kicked out of the warehouse working as the cabin clean-up crew for U.S. Aviation Services.
“We just took 5 minutes to pray, then the manager came shouting really abusive words to us and they told us we are fired, and they took the badges from us,” said Fardowsa Osman, one of the workers.
The seven workers say they've been with the Delta Airlines subcontractor for a few months and have run into numerous issues with the manager when it comes to taking a break for prayer. Tuesday, they marched to the office to drop off a petition demanding better treatment and to be recognized by the Service Employees International Union, which represents other airport employees.
“They know that Muslims pray five times a day, but that night the manager was speaking so rudely to us and so disrespectful,” said Osman.
When Fox 9 approached the office for U.S. Aviation Services, there was a sign on the door that said they are hiring. A few people were working inside the warehouse.
U.S. Aviation Services issued a statement saying, "No employee was fired by the company last week. Last Friday, a small number of Muslim employees were disciplined, but not because they practiced their faith."
U.S. Aviation says since starting work at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport nearly a year ago, they have taken steps to respect different faiths in the workplace. They went on to say, "This past Friday, the employees at issue did not take those opportunities for prayer but, instead, unilaterally decided, without notifying their supervisor, to leave an aircraft they were assigned to clean unattended for an unauthorized period of time.”
The company says they're willing to work with the union at the airport. They also expected the seven employees to show up to work on Monday, but the group says they never heard from the company all weekend and they had their badges and uniforms taken away.