Hertz Fires Muslim Workers for Taking Prayer Breaks On the Clock

Hertz Global Holdings has reportedly fired 26 Islamic employees for failing to clock out during their daily breaks which their religion requires them to take for prayers. The employees drive the company’s rental cars to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and are among a total of 30 workers suspended September 30th for failing to clock out for breaks.

Teamsters Local 117, representing the fired workers, claims that Hertz agreed during labor contract negotiations that union members would not be required to clock out for prayer breaks, but the company says that the workers were in violation of a settlement Hertz reached with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached two years ago.

Union officials say that Hertz is violating its own internal policies, suspending them without issuing either written or even verbal warnings, and then firing the workers for actions they had agreed would be acceptable. Of the 34 workers suspended for taking breaks while still on the clock, eight have signed a new clock-out agreement and are back on the job, while termination letters have been sent to the rest.

The deadline for workers to sign the clock-out agreement, a condition off reinstatement, was Thursday. The union has filed an unfair practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, and is in the process of filing religious discrimination charges with the EEOC. The union represents more than 75 drivers earning between $9.15 and $9.95 an hour, about 70 percent of whom are practicing Muslims.