Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Target Controversy over selling pork


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 ck27

ck27

    Thinking

  • Members
  • 25 posts

Posted 20 March 2007 - 04:32 PM

Target stores reassign Muslim cashiers who avoid pork - 03/19/2007 - MiamiHerald.com
Customer service and faith clash at registers

In Minnesota there is a big controversy over some branches of islam that refuse to sell/handle pork when they work as a cashier.
"
Beryl Dsouza was late and in no mood for delays when she stopped at a Target store after work two weeks ago for milk, bread and bacon.

So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier -- who had on the traditional headscarf, or hijab, worn by many Muslim women -- refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.

"She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag," said Dsouza, 53, of Minneapolis. "It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier."
"

So basically thats what is going on. Do you think they should have the right because of personal religion beliefs to refuse to sell pork or do you think they have to because its part of there job description? Also should stores accommodate to them and switch them to other departments or do you think they should be let go because they cannot do there job if there is no room in other departments?

I might of posted this in the wrong area.

#2 freeztar

freeztar

    Pondering

  • Members
  • 8432 posts

Posted 20 March 2007 - 05:12 PM

I'd say it was a sensible move by Target.
They enacted a solution that satisfied both opposing views.

I'm not a religious fanatic so I can't claim to understand the motives of the cashiers in question, but statements like this disturb me (from first link above):

Many Muslims believe the pig is an unclean animal and consider it a sin to eat pork. It is so core to their beliefs that some consider it sinful to sell the meat, because that encourages others to participate in a sinful act.


I could understand if you own a store and have convictions about certain products. That is a sensible practice. But to be an employee of an enormous corporation, it seems silly to me to take a job that conflicts with your religious beliefs.

;)

#3 CraigD

CraigD

    Creating

  • Administrators
  • 7234 posts

Posted 20 March 2007 - 05:38 PM

Do you think they [Moslem store employees] should have the right because of personal religion beliefs to refuse to sell pork or do you think they have to because its part of there job description?

It’s important, I think, to note that in none of the linked-to news stories, did any person refuse to sell pork to a customer, only refuse to themselves handle the packaged meat. In the cases reported, the cashier either had the customer handle the meat, or summoned a coworker to do it.

In my opinion, as long as these employees coworkers are not offended by their religiously-imposed limitations, no problem exists. The delay and any affront suffered by the customer is not, I think, important. Such affront, I suspect, is likely more a reflection of personal prejudice on the part of the customer, or underlying ethnic tension in their community.

Also should stores accommodate to them and switch them to other departments or do you think they should be let go because they cannot do there job if there is no room in other departments?

Unless a devout Moslem is employed in a pork-packing plant or similar establishment, or a store that has only a single employee on duty at a time, I don’t think such a switch would be necessary.

Though the principle is, I believe, the same, a far more troubling difficulty arises when, for personal religious reasons, pharmacists refuse to dispense contraceptives (ie: Pharmacists' Rights at Front Of New Debate (washingtonpost.com)). It is common for even large stores to have only a single pharmacist on duty at a time, and refusal to dispense contraceptives, especially emergency contraceptives, or any controlled medication of device, may be health or even life threatening. Also, I believe that as trained and licensed medical professionals, it is reasonable to require that pharmacists behave in accordance with established medical principles, and, if those principles conflict with their religious principles, find employment in a role where such conflict cannot arise (such as a large pharmacy that can assure that a capable pharmacist will always be available for any patients’ needs).

#4 freeztar

freeztar

    Pondering

  • Members
  • 8432 posts

Posted 20 March 2007 - 06:40 PM

In my opinion, as long as these employees coworkers are not offended by their religiously-imposed limitations, no problem exists. The delay and any affront suffered by the customer is not, I think, important.


Not important to who?

I believe that as trained and licensed medical professionals, it is reasonable to require that pharmacists behave in accordance with established medical principles, and, if those principles conflict with their religious principles, find employment in a role where such conflict cannot arise


I agree 100%!

#5 Edella

Edella

    Questioning

  • Members
  • 315 posts

Posted 20 March 2007 - 07:50 PM

We have a similar problem with Muslim taxi drivers in Minneapolis who are refusing to accept passengers transporting alcohol or service dogs. If you drink, some cabbies won't drive - CNN.com Last year, airport officials said alcohol-bearing passengers were being refused service an average of 77 times a month, though that figure dropped drastically after new airplane travel safety rules prohibited liquids in carry-on luggage.

The Somali drivers argue that because there are so many cabs at the airport, if a cab driver passes up a fare, he can just go to the cab a few feet down the aisle. No one would ever be stranded without a ride, or coerced into conforming to the cab drivers religious belief or practice. But, according to airport spokesman Patrick Hogan, the number of Somali drivers make up three-quarters of MSP's 900 cabdrivers. (So finding a cab to transport your dog or case of Schlitz Malt Liquor might still be problematic.) Driving a taxi means dealing with all kinds of people. Where do we draw the line? Could Catholics refuse service to anyone carrying condoms? Whose rights should take precedence here?

The Airport Commission was considering a simple solution, a colored light that the driver would place on his cab while it was in line, indicating a refusal to take fares carrying alcohol. One problem noted is that it might invite anti-Muslim bigotry. Passengers may choose to pass up a cab because they knew that the driver was Muslim.

This was found on the MSPairport.com web site under ordinance 102, chapter 7.4; Trip Refusal...pages 23 and 24 of 48: "No Taxicab driver shall refuse or neglect to convey any person or persons and their reasonable and legal property upon request to their destinations provided such person or persons agree to pay the legal rate of fare."


It seems simple enough to me.

#6 HydrogenBond

HydrogenBond

    Creating

  • Members
  • 2824 posts

Posted 21 March 2007 - 02:30 PM

The idea of not handling pork for a Mulim cashier is going to be tricky. If the pork is in a package like bacon, one is not technically handling the pork but the package. If the package is important, than that package of bacon was in the cart touching other packages. Is there a two package rule in affect or only a one package rule?

What about by-products and partial ingredients. For example, animal fat is used in many prepared foods. Who knows where pork fat ends up. Is there a percentage rule in affect or is there zero tolerance. What about if a store sells cooked food and uses the same oven for barbecue and chicken. Is the chicken also not suppose to be handled. It there a time rule or is it done with the sense of smell?

Say you buy dog or cat food and your animal likes a mixed bag, do they read the ingredients on each can or just look at the front label to see if the advertized ingredient is pork. Say the manufacturing actually has artificial pork flavor does that count as pork or does it have to be natural?

Deli meat and sausage going to be a nightmare, especially since beef, pork, turkey and chicken are often substituted in bolga. Say you get a deli sandwich, will they ask you to open it up so they can see which meat you put on it? Or is quick visual inspection good enough?

What about footballs. Can they handle the ole "pig skin" since it is not used for food. This is tricky one. Since the football will be kicked around with all the disrespect this dirty animal deserves.

#7 InfiniteNow

InfiniteNow

    Suspended

  • Members
  • 9148 posts

Posted 21 March 2007 - 11:10 PM

The idea of not handling pork for a Mulim cashier is going to be tricky.
...
What about if a store sells cooked food and uses the same oven for barbecue and chicken. Is the chicken also not suppose to be handled.
...
Say you buy dog or cat food and your animal likes a mixed bag, do they read the ingredients on each can or just look at the front label to see if the advertized ingredient is pork.
...
Say the manufacturing actually has artificial pork flavor does that count as pork or does it have to be natural?
...
Say you get a deli sandwich, will they ask you to open it up so they can see which meat you put on it?


HydrogenBond, you ask some very interesting and important questions about this issue. Unfortunately, you’ve chosen to do so in a bigoted and ignorant manner.

So, instead of addressing your thoughts and furthering what could be a very good discussion about the true parameters of the issue, I’m going to inform all readers that these individuals likely only eat Halal foods. This seems especially likely considering the handling of pork is an issue for them and their faith.

What that means for those who care not to do the research themselves is that the individual who refuses to handle pork would not likely be eating store cooked BBQ/roasted chicken, prepared foods, deli meats from anything but a Halal counter, nor would they eat dog food (where do you come up with this garbage HB?).

Anyway, think “kosher” for Muslims. That’s Halal.

Now, if someone cares to explore the limits of this handling pork issue, they would do well to remember that not all Muslims share one set of attributes, and individual differences will supersede any broad sweeping generalizations you make.

#8 Boerseun

Boerseun

    Phantom Cow of Justice

  • Members
  • 6053 posts

Posted 21 March 2007 - 11:39 PM

I believe that it should be stated in the employee's employment contract that the job entails handling packaged pork. The employee agrees to the terms of service before taking the job. And that should be that, I guess.

There are plenty jobs out there that includes stuff that grosses me out. I simply won't take that job. That, for instance, is why I never studied medicine. I can't take blood and guts, and that's part of the job. So, I won't do it. End of story.

I can be grossed out because I've got a queasy stomach, or because my religion tells me to be grossed out. But being grossed out is being grossed out.

I can't in all honesty go work in a hospital and then refuse to handle anyone who's bleeding. I knew what I let myself in for. If those employees refuse to handle pork, whether it's stated in their employment contracts or not, its clearly not a Halaal shop, and the employees knew what they let themselves in for.

#9 CraigD

CraigD

    Creating

  • Administrators
  • 7234 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 12:13 AM

I believe that it should be stated in the employee's employment contract that the job entails handling packaged pork. The employee agrees to the terms of service before taking the job. And that should be that, I guess.

In the various states of the US, employers have no legal obligation to actually provide job applicants with a document or explanation of their precise terms of employment. In practice, only upper-level management actually negotiate and sign a legal contract document with their employer. For most employees, this contract is considered “implied”.

I’ve worked for several food-service businesses, and though some provided me with fairly detailed job description documents, none were specific about such things as the kinds of meat I would be expected to handle. I doubt that Target cashiers have such duties described to them in detail before they are hired, and doubt they will – the legal risk of including information that be construed as in any way discriminating against a particular religion as part of the hiring process is, I suspect, greater than that of requiring they perform tasks that conflict with their religious principles after they are hired.

This about.com article provides a brief explanation of explicit and implied employment contracts.

#10 Cedars

Cedars

    Creating

  • Members
  • 1810 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 08:08 AM

There are several issues being brought up in this thread regarding religion and jobs and discrimination.

What is occuring is the public display of the religious idealism that is impacting people who do not follow that individuals religious idealism and are being inconvienced and even discriminated against by these practices. Technically you cannot discriminate against someone because of their religion.

Should the general population have an expectation (and a right) that when they walk into a public and voluntarily licensed pharmacy, that if you hold a legally obtained permit (prescription) for an item, that you will not be discriminated against because the person behind the counter (also holding a legally and voluntarily obtained permit) their license to dispense medicine, holds a personal belief that conflicts with the profession they have VOLUNTARILY undertaken?

And what about the blind person who is discriminated against because of her seeing eye dog? The blind also have rights to be treated as equally as a seeing person.

No one makes another human being (in america) become a cashier.
No one makes another human being (in america) become a taxi cab driver.
No one in america makes another human being become a pharmacist.

But in the above cases, a private citizen in a public place is being discriminated against by persons who have a voluntary position due to the differences of religion. It is not the religion of the private person that is in question here, it is a voluntary employee who is publicly discriminating against another. Its a clear cut issue when a pharmacy refuses to fill the prescriptions of ALL Women. Its a clear cut issue when an employee refuses to fill the prescriptions of ALL black people. Why isnt this so clear when ALL women who use a certain product are being discriminated against by ONE person. Why isnt it as clear when a blind person is refused a service? Why isnt it as clear when a customer has to do the work of the employee? Can a cashier refused to scan a overweight persons groceries or would you as an employer decide this person is refusing to do the job they were hired for? Whos religious idealism takes precidence? The voluntary employees or the public person who has a right not to be discriminated against?

#11 Qfwfq

Qfwfq

    Exhausted Gondolier

  • Members
  • 6241 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 08:53 AM

Unfortunately, you’ve chosen to do so in a bigoted and ignorant manner.

Cool it Pal, and I don't think name calling was quite necessary. The reply is bigotted, perhaps, at least as bigotted as someone who refuses to even touch the air-tight plastic package on religious grounds. Then again, the world is full of bigots, whether Christian, Jewish or what. Ain't it? More than an ignorant reply, perhaps a thoughtless one since we're talking about the cashier who's job implies to touch, not to eat, the pack of pork.

Now, I agree that if a person takes on a job they should accept what they're in for and I also hold that they should be given a reasonable chance to know what they're in for. There is however such a thing as a reasonable measure and someone taking the job in the store can reasonably guess there might be pork meat on sale and they're free to ask if this is so, starting from the interview. Also, while it is folly for a person to become a nurse if they can't take the idea of cleaning up people's vomit and diahorrea, there are cases of things less central to a given job and, especially if asked right at the interview, nothing forbids an employer from allowing agreements about differentiating tasks between workers, for whatever personal reasons.

In the various states of the US, employers have no legal obligation to actually provide job applicants with a document or explanation of their precise terms of employment.

It is however normal for the candidate to know, after the interview, what they will be doing. Here in Italy, when I signed to be hired for my current job, the paper cited a national collective contract covering a wide range of industry, further specifying only that I would be an employee of a certain level and that I can't refuse to go to customer's places. So far, it looks as if I could be sorting out which bills are paid and which are overdue, or whatever office work, but the interview was all about software development. Formally, and unless I lie in court about it, what was said in the interview has a legal significance.

the legal risk of including information that be construed as in any way discriminating against a particular religion

Construed in what way? A coin has two sides. A Muslim candidate for the job might say either of:

  • These bloomin' bastards are telling me I would have to handle pork, if I want the job? Just to intimidate me from seeking employment with them! Damn these intolerant racists!!!
  • Oh, Allah be thanked that they are thoughtful enough to know that many, like me, appreciate being informed that the job sometimes implies handling impure stuffs.

Which do you find is a more reasonable attitude?

#12 CraigD

CraigD

    Creating

  • Administrators
  • 7234 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 09:22 AM

IANAL, but my understanding of US public law is that, with specific legislated exceptions (eg: “common carriers” such as bus and airline operators), a private business has the right to refuse service to any customer for any reason. In principle, I could operate a store that sells only people with one blue eye and one green one. It’s very unlikely it would be profitable, but it would not violate any US code.

Why isnt it as clear when a customer has to do the work of the employee?

Because stores are under no legal compulsion to have their employees do any work for the customer. Though store spokespeople usually describe it differently, the essential function of a cashier is to assure that the customer pays for the goods they remove from the store, not facilitate the transaction.

Many stores, for no particular reason, have very poor service. These stores may be violating the “rules for having a successful business”, but, unless their endangering the public, they’re not breaking the law.

Can a cashier refused to scan a overweight persons groceries or would you as an employer decide this person is refusing to do the job they were hired for?

Yes, he can, and as an employer, I might fire them, or not. The only common law rights I can see being relevant here are mine to hire and fire employees, the employees to seek remedy in civil court if they believe my hiring or firing to be unfair, and customers to seek remedy in civil court for any financial, physical, or emotional damage they believe I or my employees have caused them.

Whos religious idealism takes precidence? The voluntary employees or the public person who has a right not to be discriminated against?

Legally, no one’s religious idealism takes precedence.

US law prohibits government from passing laws or enacting policies that discriminate against a person on the basis of religion, but, with specific exceptions as noted above, do not prohibit individuals or businesses from doing so.

Practically, I think this specific case is a non-issue. Target is interested in pleasing its customers, to attract their business. It is also interested in hiring employees for as small a wage as possible, which often requires it hire disproportionate numbers of members of ethnic and religious minorities, many of them very religiously conservative. To maintain and increase its profits, Target executives and managers will attempt as best they can to offend neither their customers nor their employees.

#13 InfiniteNow

InfiniteNow

    Suspended

  • Members
  • 9148 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 01:09 PM

Cool it Pal

Qfwfq,

I’m not exactly a newbie here, so I hope that you and others understand that, while my comments could have been less aggressive, they should be taken in context of HydrogenBond’s other posts. When viewed in this manner, my post was both valid and justified. If it quacks like a duck…


CraigD,

You keep referring to Wal-Mart. This particular case was at Target. Have those two companies signed a merger, do you know something about this I may be missing, or was it perhaps just a slip of the keyboard?


Your old Pal,
iNow

#14 CraigD

CraigD

    Creating

  • Administrators
  • 7234 posts

Posted 22 March 2007 - 02:56 PM

You keep referring to Wal-Mart. This particular case was at Target. Have those two companies signed a merger, do you know something about this I may be missing, or was it perhaps just a slip of the keyboard?

A mind/keyboard slip. Thanks for the catch - I've fixed my posts

#15 Cedars

Cedars

    Creating

  • Members
  • 1810 posts

Posted 23 March 2007 - 07:11 AM

IANAL, but my understanding of US public law is that, with specific legislated exceptions (eg: “common carriers” such as bus and airline operators), a private business has the right to refuse service to any customer for any reason. In principle, I could operate a store that sells only people with one blue eye and one green one. It’s very unlikely it would be profitable, but it would not violate any US code.Because stores are under no legal compulsion to have their employees do any work for the customer. Though store spokespeople usually describe it differently, the essential function of a cashier is to assure that the customer pays for the goods they remove from the store, not facilitate the transaction.

US law prohibits government from passing laws or enacting policies that discriminate against a person on the basis of religion, but, with specific exceptions as noted above, do not prohibit individuals or businesses from doing so.

Practically, I think this specific case is a non-issue. Target is interested in pleasing its customers, to attract their business. It is also interested in hiring employees for as small a wage as possible, which often requires it hire disproportionate numbers of members of ethnic and religious minorities, many of them very religiously conservative. To maintain and increase its profits, Target executives and managers will attempt as best they can to offend neither their customers nor their employees.


From the Civil Rights Act:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin: in voting, employment, and public services, such as transportation.

Title II
Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining the term "private."

So Target, Walmart, etc are obligated under this Act to not discirminate against customers based on religion or sex. This is why we see no "white people only" stores, or "no Muslims allowed" or "No Women Allowed". When an employee treats a customer different based on religion, the store is opening itself up for outside suits. What happens when its a mom purchacing breakfast products after a hard days work, dragging hungry and hostile kids with her that she just picked up from daycare, and she doesnt have the time to mess around cuz someone who cant do their job has issues in the position that they took voluntarily. Gawd help that store if this woman just happens to be a corporate lawyer.....

As I said, its obvious when a store wont sell products to All Women. But I dont understand why its not as clear when a pharmacy wont sell to Some Women who hold a permit to purchace. This is discrimation against some people who are of a protected class.

Additionally, as I was drifting around the net yesterday looking for relevant info, several posts in blogs in various places indicated (in Minnesota at least) there are 'programs' in place which fund immigrant employment costs, such as the state (my tax money) paying the health insurance costs for each employee hired by these corps who qualify by their immigration status.

Its one thing to hire as suggested by your post to keep costs down, and its another thing to hire to receive corporate welfare.

A pharmacy that offers birth control pills, Morning after pills, whatever, cannot allow an employee to discriminate against a customer because of the the employees religious beliefs. I believe there are laws or rules in place that require pharmacys to offer birth control to women, again another battle fought over womens rights. The same battles fought with insurance companies to cover birth control.

While I havent a problem with freedom of religion, well, not a lot of problems with it, there is also the issue of public vs private and behaviors that are acceptable in various public places. The lines will be defined better in the next few years I am sure. Too bad it needs to go thru courts for those of the religious presuasion to understand their right to practice their religion ends when it affects my right to not practice their religion. As I said, no one makes anyone in america become a cashier, pharmacist, taxi driver, etc...

#16 Qfwfq

Qfwfq

    Exhausted Gondolier

  • Members
  • 6241 posts

Posted 23 March 2007 - 10:18 AM

they should be taken in context of HydrogenBond’s other posts.

Mine should be taken in context of your and HydrogenBond’s posts. :)

If it quacks like a duck, it could be a rubber duckie...

#17 TheFaithfulStone

TheFaithfulStone

    Rockin'

  • Members
  • 1488 posts

Posted 23 March 2007 - 11:40 AM

Can a cashier refused to scan a overweight persons groceries or would you as an employer decide this person is refusing to do the job they were hired for?


Fat people are obviously your best customers! Fire the cashier forthwith! :)

So, that's a joke, but it goes to the heart of the matter. If you alienate your customers they won't come back, and you won't be in business much longer. If you deny your customers something they actually NEED, you'll be responsible for it, which could get you in trouble. A court might not award you very much for having to wait five minutes for your bacon, but if you had to leave your seeing eye dog at Minneapolis airport, they'd probably be a bit pissed off.

As I think Craig has been trying to point out - there's a difference between being actually offensive and just being stupid. I don't NEED my bag of bacon right now, (hopefully) so it's just a minor inconvenience for me to wait while the other cashier handles the pork.

I do NEED my seeing eye dog (if I were blind) so it's a major problem when a cab driver won't take me somewhere.

I do NEED that emergency contraceptive. The regular kind? Not so much - I can go to Wal-Greens, who will sell it to me, and just not return to your pharmacy.

But in any case, the problem is when someone is denying an actual NEED vs causing a minor inconvenience. Causing minor inconveniences for customers will eventually come back to get you, as people will eventually stop being your customers. Causing them to miss out on things they NEED - that will get you in legal trouble.

Incidentally, there really is no LAW preventing discrimination in hiring and firing practices in the states, if you don't receive federal funding, nor is there a law prohibiting customer discrimination. You are not obligated to serve people in various shades of brown, and in fact, not to far from where I live there are places that DON'T. The enforcement comes about through word of mouth. If word gets out that you're a racist bigot, then chances are pretty good, your customers will dry up to racist bigots only, which thankfully, isn't a very strong sector.

TFS