Muslim Workers in Fort Morgan, Colorado Fired After Leaving Meat Packing Plant to Pray

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
December 31, 2015 Updated: December 31, 2015

About 150 Muslim workers at a meat packing plant in Colorado were fired for walking off the job to protest a workplace prayer policy.

The workers walked out of Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan earlier this month, and many have stayed away as representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations tried to negotiate a change in policy.

But Cargill ended up firing the workers who were holding out on Tuesday, a representative of the council told the Denver Post this week.

The representative said Muslim workers were previously allowed to pray at a prayer room at the plant in blocks of five to 10 minutes, but recently a decision was made not to allow prayer at the plant.

“The workers were told: ‘If you want to pray, go home,'” Jaylani Hussein said. Company officials told him the mass dismissal was over a “no call, no show, walk out.”

The time used to pray before was taken out of paid break time or unpaid lunch.


Hussein will try to negotiate with Cargill in a teleconference scheduled next week to let the workers reapply for their positions, which would go against company policy that doesn’t let terminated workers reapply for 6 months.

Cargill hasn’t commented since the mass firing, but last week, Mike Martin, director of communications for Cargill, told the Greeley Tribune that employees of all faiths are allowed to use a reflection area, but that because employees work on an assembly line only one or two at a time can use the area, to avoid slowing production.

He said company policies had not changed. 

Martin added in a statement sent to 7News:  “While reasonable efforts are made to accommodate employees, accommodation is not guaranteed and is dependent on a number of factors that can, and do, change from day to day.”

According to the station, a law requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the business.

The Fort Morgan plant employs more than 2,100 people, reported Al Jazeera, with almost a third from East Africa as of mid-2013.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.