City of Seattle to tackle religious discrimination in workplace

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 18 at 7:00 PM

Nearly all of us take coffee breaks, but what about workers who need a break to pray?

The City of Seattle will soon tackle the issue of religious discrimination in the workplace.

At West Coast Storage in Federal Way,  Mohamed Ahmed is allowed a few minutes each day to pray in the back room.

"It's part of my daily life. Just as if I was eating food. I believe it makes me a better person," said Ahmed.

His boss, manager Kevin Johnson, says the religious accomodation is worth it.

"When we are closed for five minutes, he comes out to take care of customers. It hasn't been an issue at all as far as losing business. If anything they're willing to wait with how good he takes care of them."

It's much harder for Muslim women.

With covered heads, Muslim women complain that finding and keeping a job, especially at companies that require uniforms, is a challenge.

"Many employees, when they see you wearing the hajib, basically wouldn't hire you," said social worker, Nafiso Samatar.

In the past six months, 100 women have complained to the Seattle Office of Civil Rights.

But, the office can't investigate.

Although it is a Federal law,  religious protections for workers are not law in Seattle.  That leaves the Office of Civil Rights unable to investigate complaints.

Mayor Mike McGinn proposal to put teeth into Seattle's religious discrimination law will be considered by the City Council this summer.

 

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