Seattle Hertz Suspends Praying Muslim Drivers For Staying On Break Too Long

SEATTLE, Wash. (CBS Seattle) – To pray or not to pray? That is the question posed to some Somali Muslims working at Hertz, just as long as they clock out.

More than 30 Somali Muslim shuttle drivers working for Hertz at the Seattle airport were indefinitely suspended over the issue of whether they had been taking too long on their breaks without clocking out, breaks the drivers say are meant to be used as time for daily prayer.

The Seattle Times reports that Teamsters Local 117, which represents the 34 suspended drivers, filed an unfair labor-practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, citing that the car rental hub in Seattle failed to notify the union ahead of time of the rule alteration, which was instituted Sept. 30.

There has been no set timetable as to when the matter could be resolved as the issue is under review. The drivers are paid between $9.15 and $9.95 an hour, and receive no health benefits, or any vacation or sick days.

The unilateral changes that were made by Hertz without notifying the union of the matter and attempt to settle violated the collective bargaining agreement between the two sides and endangered the financial livelihood of the Somali Muslim drivers, Teamsters Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer Tracy Thompson said.

Thompson worries that treating the employees “very harshly” under the umbrella of the new policy could result in a punishment as extreme as terminating the 34 drivers, saying that taking away the livelihoods of the Somali Muslim employees currently suspended is “almost obscene.”

“They’ve clearly made it about the religious exercise here and that’s where we have a number of problems,” Thompson told CBS Seattle. “They’ve violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, let alone these people’s right to exercise their religious rights during the day.”

But the issue of the Somali Muslim Hertz drivers at the Seattle airport and their break time isn’t a new one. Hertz Spokesman Richard Broome told CBS Seattle that a clock-in, clock-out requirement in a 2009 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlement was implemented because the company believed that the breaks were being extended by the suspended employees beyond the necessary time needed to complete their prayers.

The company is not punishing the drivers for exercising their right to pray, he said. Instead, Hertz wants to make sure those five- or 10-minute breaks don’t turn into longer ones under the guise of prayer, adding that there are a number of Muslim Hertz employees in the Seattle area who are following protocol.

“We have a number of Muslim employees in Seattle who clock in and clock out and are gainfully employed, and will remain this way,” Broome said, acknowledging that the company wants to resolve the matters as soon as possible. “At this point, employees not willing to clock in and clock out will remain suspended.”

He added: “Unfortunately, some of these prayer breaks have extended way too long and we felt like it’s important to have procedures for prayers to continue and not have the privilege be abused.”

In the 2009 EEOC settlement between Hertz and the union, the agreement cites the car rental company as respecting the legitimate break times of its employees and “will disturb an employee only in an emergency or when Hertz believes that the employee has either not punched out for break or has been on break for more than the allowed time, which currently ten minutes.”

The NLRB complaint filed by the Teamsters, though never citing specific break time-related issues, outlines how Hertz suspended its employees for engaging in “concerted protected activity.” For now, the NLRB’s regional office will investigate the complaint. If there’s merit in favor of the 34 drivers, there will be a hearing before an administrative judge. About 90 percent of the cases filed to the NLRB are resolved either before or after a legislative hearing, said Nancy Cleeland, the NLRB’s director of public affairs.

But the 34 Somali Muslims remain suspended, waiting on whether the issue that separates their job from their religion will be figured out.

  • Ben Doverhereitcomes

    Fire them and send them back.

    • Jason Goldtrap

      People get jobs today only by applying online. 90% of the time you don’t even get a rejection email you just get disheartening silence. So, was it just an amazing coincidence that 34 Somali Muslims happen to apply at Hertz, go through an extensive interview process and training to become drivers? Strange things are afoot.

      • Marc Taylor

        I’m boycotting Hertz.
        NOT to support the muslim zombies driving the buses…
        But because Hertz hired them to start with!

    • buddy

      fire them all. if they can’t work like everyone else here in america they should be terminated. or fired.

    • cj

      Give me a Break! FIRE THEM! This is America!!! Assimulate or leave. Pray at home!!!!


        I just reported you to

      • Alba

        Absolutely agree. I’ll support Hertz from now on.

      • Barry's CT. SSN FAILS 'E-VERIFY'

    • guest

      no wonder they are praying, they are paid around $1.00 more than minimum
      wage if they are from California, with no benefits , no vacation, no sick leave,
      no health care. you would pray too,

      • John Sweet

        add to that their Union dues that got them such great working conditions.

  • Muslim airport shuttle drivers suspended for praying too long... | Breaking News

    […] (First column, 3rd story, link) […]

  • john

    Maybe they should be deported back to whereever they came from.
    I’m not muslim, but if I worked for hertz, would they give me prayer breaks?
    I seriously doubt it, so why do they tolerate these bozos, when Islam is not even a true religion? It is a front for criminals to hide behind.

    • BrownGuy

      John is a good christian.
      He HATES!

  • Corey

    This is the same argument made about smokers on the job, and it is handled the same way, or should be. Muslims, via their religious tradition, are required to pray FIVE TIMES A DAY facing Mecca. The average prayer session is roughly 5-10 minutes, meaning that approximately 25-50 minutes of a potential work day would be interrupted by religious observance.

    There is no problem in my eyes with these individuals praying – as long as they clock out. Hertz has said the same thing, and I see no controversy here other than the fact that certain employees have refused to clock out and are henceforth suspended. Attempts by their Union to portray Hertz’s actions as anything but justifiable will go nowhere, or at least they shouldn’t. This is clearly not a case of religious intolerance, in fact, I commend Hertz for putting up with this disruption in the first place. If I was a business owner, I would be skeptical of hiring anyone, for any reason, who was “required” to take up to an hour of time during the work day to do anything other than work – unless it was their lunch break.

    • Regulas

      Cult of Islam sympathizer, I bet you voted for Obozo too.

    • rulierose

      you know what? Muslims are NOT “required to pray five times a day.” in a perfect world, devout MUslims would indeed do that. but most of them don’t. when I was in Marrakech we’d hear the call to prayer 5 times a day for sure…and not once did we ever see anyone stop and actually pray.

      like footbaths–which are also not “required” and aren’t seen much in the Middle East–the Muslims once again pretend to have stringent “religious” duties and everyone else had better shut up and like it. it’s ridiculous.

      give those jobs to 34 Americans who can pray on the weekends!

  • vegasdomar

    Where’s that liberal tolerance toward a minority class and peaceful religion.

  • Flabbo

    And you wonder why we have double digit unemployment. Now go ahead and tell there are no citizens who would take the job.

  • ScottHB

    Outlaw religion. Period.

    • TL

      Why dont we outlaw religious intolerance and liberalism!

  • Sharon

    Why are immigrants being favored over American citizens? Deport them if they don’t like it here. What are we doing with Muslim from a terrorist country in our country?

  • Muhammed

    I have not seen a group of people who require more ‘special considerations’ than Muslims. And if they don’t get what they demand he rest of us are labeled religious bigots and Islamophobes. In our eternal need to be politically correct, we cannot stand to be labelled this way.

    We need to remember that if they are trying to behead you, you are probably not an Islamophobe.

    • HiHeels

      the Learning Channel has a new reality tv show coming out show casing the lives of some muslm families. De-sensitizing the population to be ok with them because they keep immigrating thousands daily as the new obama voting base

  • LindaB

    muslims wishing to pray 5 times a day, should NEVER interrupt work, They need to realize that work INTERRUPTION cannot be accepted at all. THEIR LUNCH HOURs are sufficient!!!They can go home and pray FOUR more times, AT HOME!…let’s see… THAT EQUALS FIVE TIMES.

    • krp

      There are certain times of the day when they are supposed to pray. Not that I like those are just the facts.

      Now really, in a supposed 9 to 5 workday, can you honestly say that you work from 9-12 non-stop and from 1-5 non-stop? No,. you take coffee breaks, you get up and stretch your legs, you go the bathroom etc. Hell, I’ve done it, I have worked on crews where we ALL took a break every 2 hours as a unit.
      So they schedule the coffee breaks at the times that they are supposed to pray, they have the morning break and the afternoon break and the lunch hour, and then before and after work. No problem.

  • Boodrow Malone

    No other religion would be allowed prayer on or near the job site. They can pray all they want after or before work. No special work rules for muslims.

  • deserttrek

    Somalis????? ENOUGH! Either follow the rule or leave. Why are we expected to bend over for everybody else?

    • Tim

      I like my Somalis with a little bit of sour cream.

  • Marco

    They should have their wages deducted proportional to the perid not worked

  • LindaB

    I say FIRE them all.

  • Tim

    For penance, make them draw pictures of Mohammed.

  • Tim

    Make them put their forhead on a baseball bat that is perpendicular to the ground. Have them circle the bat 20 times. Then ask them to try to face Mecca to pray.

    • alien5


  • HiHeels

    Doesn’t Seattle have a somali muslim running for congress. Congress needs a matching pair. Keith are you lonely when you time out to pray on the floor of congress. Where did so many somali people get the means to immigrate here any way. Pawlenty was going to let the state of Minnesota buy houses to sell to them interest free , sharia compliant and bending over with the ky jelly for islam..
    our country is down grading into a 3rd world pos

  • Moshe

    Thanks for this article. I know now not to use hertz as they hire terrorists nor do I want to be in a car that possibly has been booby trapped. they just love pyrotechnics

  • Tim

    Do you prefer your samalis with sour cream or picante sauce?

  • LindaB

    Go HERTZ!!!! HIRE AMERICAN!!!! Just want to say…I HATE MUSLIMS

  • Bill

    What we really need is more people from turd world, gargage can countries to come to America.

  • michelle

    Comrade Obama to the rescue!!

  • the kid

    just more f’n lazy moolies!!!

  • no sharia

    This is a prime example of “creeeping Sharia” into our mainstream. Little by liitle they want to institute their ways into our culture until they reach Kalifa or Califate to control the world. Ask Europe how they like it now. Political correctness needs to stop NOW!

    • incontrovertible wisdom

      You are a complete and utter idiot. You are NOT an American and have never been your whole life. This country needs to deport you to some third world country where you can spew your incoherent drivel all you want. Get some semblance of an education in your off time when you are not serving people fries and burgers. Until then you are nothing more than a “mouth breather” drain on society. Get a job and a life you troll.



      • no sharia

        Looks like from most of the other postings on this thread that it is YOU that who’s “wisdom” is not incontrovertible after all.

    • nhk93

      Absolutely correct. If we are not vigilant–that is exactly what will happen here.

  • maadalinkilinkmaddalinkiloo

    Could I take an hour off for daily Mass if I worked for Hertz? Hell no.

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