Faribault Daily News reported last Monday on a dress code policy that led to the walkout of 30 Muslim women and men from Dianne’s Fine Desserts in Le Center, Minnesota.
Sometime in May, a woman’s long dress got caught in a boot washer — a floor machine that washes footwear and is required for plant sanitary guidelines. The company changed their dress code policy to ban all skirts and dresses that hang below the knee. Jeans and pants must now be tucked into boots.
The Muslim men and women who walked off say that the long dress for women is necessary for their religious beliefs, and that the company is implementing the policy to force them out.
I call bullshit on both sides. Dianne’s needs those 30 workers – they are 12% of the 250-person workforce. Worker safety should trump all else on a work site. I dislike that the company has to make religious accommodations, but let’s be realistic. If a good number of Dianne’s Fine Desserts workforce is demanding the accommodation, they should try to find a way to make it possible for them to work there. Compromise must be reached. How hard did Dianne’s search for another way to acheive the boot washing effect? Could they have a private area for the boot washer for those women who needed to raise their skirts? Could a simple awareness program have been put in place that would negate the need for a “no long skirt” policy?
The EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) states that an employer must reasonably accommodate a worker’s religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would cause undue hardship — including compromising workplace safety.