25 former Hertz drivers in Seattle sue, saying they were targeted as Somali Muslims

SEATTLE — Twenty-five former Hertz drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have filed a lawsuit claiming they were fired based on their race, religion and nationality.

The former employees are Muslims who were born in Somalia.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court claims Hertz Corp. terminated them after they refused to clock out for prayers. The lawsuit claims they had not been required to clock out previously and the rules were changed to target Somali Muslims.

Hertz officials could not be reached for comment after business hours. But a spokesman said previously that other drivers who were suspended in September returned to their jobs after agreeing to clock out.
The workers who are suing want to be reinstated with back pay, plus reimbursement of lost benefits and attorneys’ fees.

Muslims fired in Seattle over prayer breaks could return-Hertz

SEATTLE, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The Hertz car rental company said on Friday that 26 Muslim drivers at Seattle’s airport sent termination letters in a dispute over prayer breaks could still return to work if they signed an agreement over break rules by the end of the day.

A group of 34 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were suspended three weeks ago for failing to clock in and out for the breaks, a move their union called religious discrimination.

Hertz Suspends 34 Muslim Drivers In Prayer Dispute

SEATTLE (AP) — Thirty-four Muslim drivers for auto rental company Hertz claimed they were suspended for praying during work hours, but the company contended they were reprimanded for abusing break times. Backed by their union, the drivers protested Wednesday outside the Hertz counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where they are based.

“This is an outrageous assault on the rights of these workers and appears to be discriminatory based on their religious beliefs,” Tracey A. Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, said in a statement. Observant Muslims pray five times a day.

Hertz said the workers suspended last week were violating provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached two years ago. “The breaks were getting extended way beyond prayer time,” said Rich Broome, a spokesman for Hertz Global Holdings Inc. “It’s important to understand that several Muslim employees who are complying were not suspended. It’s not about prayer, it’s not about religion; it’s about reasonable requirements.”

Seattle-area Muslim man sues former employer over firing because he refused to shave beard

SEATTLE — A Seattle-area Muslim man is suing his former employer, claiming he was fired as a security guard for refusing to shave the beard he wears for religious reasons.

Abdulkadir Omar, 22, filed his federal lawsuit July 15 in Seattle against Sacramento-based American Patriot Security, seeking back pay and unspecified damages for emotional pain and loss of enjoyment of life, among other reasons.

According to the lawsuit, Omar was hired by a local manager of the security company in May 2009 and earned $9 an hour guarding a FedEx warehouse in Kent, Wash. He said he started the same day he was hired, and was not told about the clean-shaven policy.

In November 2009, a supervisor from headquarters told him he had to shave his beard because of company policy. Omar responded that his beard is part of his religious beliefs and refused. He was suspended, and then fired the following spring, the lawsuit said.