Work and religion

Aug 12 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

A large American company recently took a very controversial position, which is likely to cause quite a stir as it is more widely reported. Tyson Foods has decided to repeal its Labor Day holiday and institute a Muslim holiday in its place.

The company's workers union, which has hundreds of Muslim members, has decided to make this a "priority".

Of course, Tyson is perfectly within its rights to implement such a decision; as the aforementioned article points out, it hasn't had to take extra measures for its accommodation.

But why should somebody's religion have an effect on their work? One can argue that Christmas is a Christian holiday, however many non-Christians (indeed, non-religious) people in the United States celebrate it. Indeed, it's more of a cultural event than a religious one in many, many households.

Such a decision opens a larger can of worms Ė do companies need to make arrangements for Pagan employees? What about for Jewish employees? Atheist employees who want no religious holidays?

While the union had its heart in the right place, I find it difficult to make accommodations for one minority and then neglect other minorities or religions in the workplace.

Don't expect the criticisms to die down soon; still, this is of Tyson's own making.