Cargill's Wichita-based North American beef business has updated its policy related to the time interval between the date when an employee is terminated and the date when that person may become eligible to reapply for a position with the company. The policy was changed to allow all former employees terminated for attendance violation or job abandonment to be considered for potential rehiring 30 days after their termination date. This is a change from what previously had been a 180-day period. An attendance policy violation occurs when an employee misses three consecutive days without calling in or showing up for work.
Cargill Beef's religious accommodation policy remains unchanged. This religious accommodation policy has been in place for many years and was the subject of an apparent misunderstanding that led to nearly 150 employees being absent from work for the plant's second shift, Dec. 21-23, 2015. The religious accommodation policy applies to all plant employees. Accommodation requests are made to work area supervision and granted based on production line staffing and other factors that may vary day-to-day. Although not guaranteed, and not part of the meal and break periods that are part of the plant's union agreement with Teamsters local 455, the vast majority of religious accommodation requests are routinely granted during each of the plant's two weekday work shifts.
"We believe the change in our beef business policy related to how quickly a former employee may be eligible to reapply for positions at our beef plants is a reasonable update to something that's been in place for quite a few years," said Cargill Beef President John Keating. "The terminations at Fort Morgan appear to be based on a misunderstanding, or misinformation, about a perceived change in our religious accommodation policy that did not occur. Allegations that we were not going to allow prayer any longer are false. The result is that nearly 150 people found themselves in violation of our attendance policy and we had no alternative to termination. This change will provide for an orderly and expeditious reapplication process for people seeking an opportunity to potentially fill vacant positions at our beef plants."
As one of the largest beef producers in North America, Cargill operates eight major plants – six in the U.S. and two in Canada – and employs approximately 18,000 people. "Cargill is a global company with a diverse workforce, which we believe is one of our strengths," added Keating. "We celebrate, respect and encourage diversity in our beef business, which employs people whose origins span many different nations."
For more information about the original news story regarding the termination of employees, click here.