Thursday, March 15, 2007

Religious accomodations in stores

I found the following post in the Star Tribune interesting. Some Muslims working as cashiers in a supermarket are refusing to touch (wrapped) pork products, instead asking the customers or another cashier to scan them and put them into the bags.

I remember a few years ago a local Rabbi was asked for a psak about a teenage who wanted to work in the snack counter of a local theater that served hot dogs with cheese and other basar b'chalav combinations. He suggested she not take the job.

The sources quoted in the article seem to think that the cashiers' actions are legal, and that this falls within the requirement to 'reasonably accommodate' the religious beliefs of employees. Initially I thought this was unacceptable, but after more thought I'm inclined to agree.


David Guttmann said...

I would differentiate. Muslims consider pork as tameh. If you want to really make a moslem go crazy threaten to bury him with a piece of pork in his grave. He will go straight to hell.

The Jewish law is that pork is not to be eaten or enjoyed (hana'ah) The psak of the rabbi was based on the worry that by mistake the person will ingest it or that familiarity will weaken the resolve.

Larry Lennhoff said...

This appears to be an urban legend, although it is certainly possible some Muslims believe it. There are over a billion of them - that gives scope for some pretty crazy ideas.

I also don't believe that pork is assur b'hanna. Basar b'chalav (milk and meat) is assur b'hannah, but as far as I know you can feed your dog ham if you want to.

So do you think not having to touch pork is a 'reasonable accommodation' for a supermarket cashier?