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March 21, 2005
Dell, Staffing Firm, and Muslim Workers Settle Dispute

Spherion Corp. has agreed to rehire 31 Muslim employees who walked off the job site at Dell's Nashville fulfillment center following a dispute over their request to conduct sunset, or Magrhib, prayers in accordance with Islamic faith.

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The Nashville Metro Human Relations Commission mediated the agreement with Dell, Spherion, and the workers. Some of the workers already have returned to work for Spherion at the Dell site. The remaining workers will be notified by letter of the process for returning to their jobs with Spherion, according to the commission.

Dell and Spherion employees will receive additional training on Dell's existing practices for religious accommodation as well. Those guidelines instruct managers and supervisors to grant paid time away from an employees' work area for prayer as long as those requests are reasonable.

The parties involved with the mediation praised the agreement.

"We are pleased with both the terms of the settlement and with the cooperative attitude of all parties in the negotiations," says Nihad Awad, executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who who took part in the negotiations.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of l964, employers must reasonably accommodate employees' religious practices unless doing so would impose an "undue hardship" on the employer.

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