Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Hertz #1 Club

It sounds like London or Amsterdam, but it's Atlanta. In light of a previous post, try to imagine the howls of protest that would be heard and the stories in the press that would be written if a major corporation gave Jews time off for regular prayer or Catholics time off for eucharistic adoration.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. rental car company, was sued by former employees who say its policy of allowing Muslims to take daily prayer breaks discriminates against non-Muslim workers.
Katie Barkley and Shirley Harris, who worked as part-time drivers moving Hertz cars from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to other locations, claim Muslim employees were given as many as three paid, 15-minute prayer breaks each shift while non-Muslim employees were denied equal time off, according to the suit filed Nov. 30 in federal court in Atlanta.
Barkley and Harris lost their jobs in February when Hertz fired all 120 drivers at Hartsfield and replaced them with contract drivers, according to the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status as well as back pay and other damages.
A similar suit filed in 2007 is pending before the same court. In August, Hertz said in court documents filed in that case that it allows Muslim employees at the Atlanta airport to take prayer breaks and that they aren't required to clock out. A non-Muslim worker "has no need for such an accommodation," Park Ridge, N.J.-based Hertz said in the court documents....
I'm all in favor of time off for prayer -- preferably unpaid time off, for as Martin Buber insisted, the way to God is prayer and sacrifice. But this exclusive deference to Islamic religious sensibilities is not a sign of true religious tolerance, as the plaintiffs in this case point out.

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