Lawsuit: Hertz Suspended 34 Somali Muslims for Praying at Work

The Muslim workers who drove airport shuttles for Hertz at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were suspended Friday.

By Jorge Rivas Oct 10, 2011

On Friday, Seattle Teamsters Local 117 filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the Hertz car rental company after 34 Somali Muslim employees were allegedly suspended for praying on the clock. The suspensions are indefinite. 

A Hertz spokesman told the Seattle Times that the workers, who drove shuttles at Seattle-Tacoma International airport, were repeatedly told they needed to clock out. The suspensions came after the workers failed to comply.

"We felt it was reasonable for our Muslim employees who need to pray a couple times during the workday to clock in and clock out," Rich Broome, spokesman for Hertz, told the Times.

But Teamsters officials said managers had agreed in negotiations that workers would not have to clock in and out. The contract itself does not address the matter, and Local 117 said it filed the complaint against Hertz for failing to notify the union in advance of what it considers a policy change.

About 70 percent of the 80 drivers at Hertz in Seattle are Muslim. They receive no health benefits, vacation or sick leave.

Muslim workers who clocked out were not suspended.