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Workplace discrimination claimed against Hertz rental cars

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bans employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, religion or nationality.

The Hertz Corp., a nationwide rental car business, is facing a workplace discrimination lawsuit from 25 of its former employees. According to the employees, they were fired from their jobs at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because of discrimination.

Specifically, the employees say that they were discriminated against based on their race, religion and nationality. All of these former employees are Muslims that were born in Somalia.

As part of their sincerely held religious beliefs, Muslims are required to pray during the workday. Hertz had always been accommodating to their religious beliefs, and the employees were never required to clock-out in order to pray.

However, the lawsuit alleges that recently, non-Muslim managers changed their workplace rules and began requiring that Muslim employees clock-out before they pray. The former Muslim employees believe that they were targeted as a religious group, and that management was simply using this tactic to have a reason to fire them.

These employees are hoping that by bringing this discrimination lawsuit Hertz will give them their jobs back, along with back pay and reimbursement for lost benefits and medical expenses and attorneys' fees. Interestingly, certain employees were allowed to return to work once they agreed to clock-out during prayer times.

Is it legal to require an employee to clock-out for prayer time? Or was this new rule a form of discrimination against a certain class of employees? The outcome of this lawsuit will certainly be interesting for Indiana residents to watch.

Source: The Seattle Times, "25 former Hertz drivers sue for discrimination," Dec. 7, 2011

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