Hertz Suspends 34 Muslim Bus Drivers For Praying On the Job

10/07/2011 02:08 pm ET | Updated Dec 07, 2011

"If you guys pray, you go home."

That's what Hertz shuttle driver Zainab Aweis recounted her manager as saying, according to CBS.

A recent policy change by the rental car company has resulted in the indefinite suspension of 34 Muslim shuttle bus drivers employed by the company at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. According to the Seattle Times, because the employees did not clock out to pray as the company's new policy says they should, they were told to leave for the day.

While KOMO reports that the company claims it's not targeting the large number of Muslims under their employ, many, including the Teamsters union that represents 79 percent of the drivers, see it differently.

While the drivers were allowed two, 10-minute breaks during their work shifts during which they could pray, Teamsters officials said managers had agreed in negotiations that workers would not have to clock out and in, though the contact itself does not address the matter.

The change came as a shock to many, but Hertz has been clear to note that no one who clocked out to pray was disciplined. Interestingly, it's also not about the pay. According to CBS, break time is still paid time.

Yet still, according to KOMO, whether or not Hertz had the right to change the policy, is a matter of contention.

The company released a copy of a 2009 document, which says employees need to clock-out during their two, 10-minute breaks each day. Hertz says it suspended the workers at Sea-Tac because they were not doing that.

But the Teamsters Local 117 says a new agreement reached one year ago with Hertz says the exact opposite.

According to CBS, the local Teamsters 117 has filed an unfair-labor-practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Hertz, claiming they were not properly notified of the change.

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