QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Freedom Of Worship

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Q. I have been asked to look into the modification and adaptation of some areas in our building and facilities to accommodate the daily prayer requirements of our Muslim employees. They have requested foot washing stations and a prayer room.

We are a privately held manufacturer of custom sealing systems and mechanical seals. We employ standard machine shop practices and manufacturing processes. We operate a number of facilities in the states and some overseas. We have 350 employees worldwide.

So my question is this. Have you had to deal with such requests? If so, what have you done? Is there a company policy covering this, and/or other religious activity on company property? Did you get complaints from other religious groups?

Leon Joyce

Facilities Manager

Stein Seal Co.

Kulpsville, PA

This question was originally published in the October 2008 issue of Today’s Facility Manager. Read Elledge’s response here. Share your feedback and suggestions in the LEAVE A REPLY section below.

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4 Responses

  1. Dianna says:

    I have not had this specific request but I would try to accommodate as much as possible but also think of other uses for the room so that it is fully utilized. Maybe it can be used for group exercise (yoga) or maybe on site Weight Watchers meetings, breast pumping area, etc.

    Obviously, careful scheduling so that no one is pumping milk during prayer times.

  2. Maria Vickers says:

    I provide small “private rooms” in all my facilities, which are used by both nursing mothers and the devout of any religion for daily devotionals. The rooms are very successful and well appreciated. They kept locked and one key is signed in and out at the front desk. No running water is provided, and this has never been an issue.

  3. A room to pray in was requested by employees of other faiths as well when Muslim employees requested a prayer room. In our case, we indicated that an enclosed room was available but not exclusively to Muslim staff (but used mainly by them …at prayer times). One Muslim lady was happy to pray in her own cubicle. In another instance, a couple of meeting rooms were made available for prayers (but not to be booked for prayers) and used if no meetings was taking place in that room. No special washing facilities were put in place and Muslim employees used facilities already in place.

    It goes without saying that this request be treated with sensitivity as it has the potential to become an area of conflict as employees of other religions may request facilities designed to accommodate their specific religious practices.

  4. Mark Walker says:

    I realize I am a few months late to answer this question, but thought you would be interested in the products that we offer. We are UK-based publishers of “Diversity Matters” – a best practice guide for architects, commercial interior designers and Facilities Managers on the design and provision of multi-faith prayer rooms. We are currently developing our US sales and distribution network, so please send any inquiries to [email protected].

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