New skirt length policy prompts Muslim walk-out at Minn. business
LE CENTER, Minn. (KMSP) -
More than 30 Somali employees walked out in protest of dress code changes at a privately-owned business in Le Center, Minn.
The former employees of Dianne's Fine Desserts claim a new uniform policy was instituted to force them off the job because of their Islamic beliefs.
The owner of the bakery, Mike Knowles, told the Faribault Daily News a woman's long dress recently got caught in a boot washer and the new guidelines were instated over safety concerns.
Knowles, who bought the business just 11 days before the accident, said the company leaders went out of their way to try to work with the Somali Community. Originally, they had recommended knee-high skirts but later agreed to boot-high or mid-calf skirts before making the policy public at a meeting on Friday.
On Monday, many devout women reported back to work in their full-length attire, saying the new dress code conflicts with their religious beliefs. They were then given the option adjust their skirt lengths or leave.
Eleven women walked out and were joined by about 20 Somali men.
The workers have asked the Council on American-Islamic Relations to intercede, and CAIR has previously helped 25 Muslim employees who were terminated in December 2010.
At the time, the business was called Dianne's Gourmet Desserts and was under a different owner who fired the employees after the break schedule was altered into conflict with employees' prayer schedule, but employees prayed anyway. A complaint was forwarded to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the workers were reinstated.
The walk-off has also been brought to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union.