A recent religious discrimination court case was won by the employer, in large part, because of the employer's documented efforts to find solutions to the employees religious practice needs; even though the employee didn't agree with the employer's suggestions.
Abdifatah Farah was sent by A-1 Careers (a temporary agency) to work for Centrinex. Centrinex leases part of a six-story building that included use of the shared lobby area. Farah was the only Muslim employee at Centrinex.
Farah's religious practices included praying five times a day. His prayer process included the use of a mat, kneeling, sitting, laying prostrate and standing. He said his prayers in silence. One of the prayer times, mid-afternoon, conflicted with his work schedule.
He routinely combined his Friday afternoon lunch time with a 15-minute afternoon break to allow him to go to a mosque 30 minutes away to perform his prayers.
Once at Centrinex, Farah consulted a coworker about where he could perform his mid-afternoon prayer during Monday through Thursday. The coworker suggested the shared lobby area. When other tenants and visitors complained about Farah praying in the lobby, an A-1 Careers representative suggested that he pray outside, at an off-site location, or in his car. Farah responded by saying the car was too small to correctly pray, he didn't like to pray outside and that the nearest mosque was 30 minutes away. He did not tell the A-1 representative that he was currently visiting the mosque on Fridays.
A Centrinex HR director spoke with Farah about other prayer locations, but again he rejected the suggestion that he pray in his car or outside. He did not respond to the director's suggestion of praying off campus. He did ask to pray in the director's private office, or in the hallway outside the office. The director said the office held confidential information and that the hallway traffic couldn't be interrupted.
Farah did not ask about combining his lunch break with a 15-minute break for the other days of the week, nor of making up lunch time prayer time by extending his work day 15 minutes.
The Centrinex director claims she would have granted this if Farah had asked.
After Farah was given a warning letter, he refused to stop praying in the lobby. At that point, Centrinex and A-1 considered him to have voluntarily resigned.
After Farah sued both companies (Farah v. A-1 Careers and Centrinex, LLC.), alleging religious discrimination and failure to accommodate his religious beliefs, the U.S. District Court of the District Of Kansas found that the companies and Farah had gone through an interactive process to try to solve the issue with his mid-day prayers. This process involved several occasions and the companies explored alternatives and made specific suggestions that they felt might have met his needs and the companys' neutral work requirements. The court noted that Centrinex had allowed Farah to take the time to go to the mosque on Fridays.
The court points out that Farah had not suggesting applying the Friday solution to the other days of the week. Farah could not show that either the Centrinex HR director, nor the A-1 representative know about the Friday solution.
The court said the companies reasonably accommodated Farah's religious beliefs with their offering to let him go off-site. The court granted summary judgment in the company's favor.

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