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Dell: Say your prayers

But not at sunset...

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Authorities in Nashville, Tennessee are investigating allegations that 30 Muslim workers were unfairly dimissed from a Dell factory in the city.

The workers were allegedly dismissed for refusing to skip prayers. According to reports the night-shift workers were called to a 1.00am meeting in the canteen and told they could no longer leave the assembly line for sunset prayers.

Muslims must pray five times a day but timings are flexible except for prayers at sunset, which must be performed within a half-hour window. The 30, all Somalis working in the packing department, decided they could not compromise on their evening prayer time, AP reports.

Nashville's Metro Human Relations Commission confirmed to The Reg that it had received complaints.

Kelvin Jones, executive director at Metro Human Relations Commission, said: "We have responsibility for receiving and investigating complaints. We are currently following up an enquiry but this is not a full inquiry yet. However we do expect it to lead to a complaint against Spherion (Dell's employment agency) and Dell."

Jones told The Reg he had had two short conversations with Dell - one locally and one with headquarters in Austin, Texas. A message was left by someone at Spherion too, he said. Jones said he hopes to sort out the problem by reconciliation.

Dell Europe refused to answer specific questions but emailed us the following statement: "Dell values diversity in all areas, including religious belief, and it is the company's practice to accommodate religious beliefs. In fact, our practice of accommodation often exceeds what's required by law.

"Further to this, Dell enjoys a strong reputation within the Muslim community as an accommodating place to work. Dell has well-established, effective processes for employees to raise issues with their manager or with Human Resources. Dell also has an 'open door' policy in which employees can meet with plant executives to raise relevant issues. We're working to and are confident we will be able to appropriately resolve this issue. " ®

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