Manzur Mahmud used to hide when he prayed.
He’d duck down in his cubicle at Dallas’ Texas Instruments or scramble to a friend’s office to conduct two of his five daily Muslim prayers. Now the Bangladeshi engineer walks down the corridor and enters a small prayer room.
North Texas companies are increasingly making space for quiet rooms as Muslim employees play a larger role in the U.S. workplace and feel more secure about verbalizing their faith.
Meanwhile, businesses nationwide are seeing a rise in the number of religious discrimination charges. The changing nature of the workplace is forcing organizations to navigate the nuances of religious acceptance and office productivity.
“People have started coming forward and identifying themselves as Muslims,” said Mr. Mahmud. “And employers are realizing that if their employees are happy, they work better.”
Dallas-based American Airlines has a multipurpose room visited up to four times a day by its Muslim employees who previously prayed in the stairwells. Nortel’s Dallas campus has several scattered quiet rooms available for prayer, and Electronic Data Systems in Plano just opened one last fall.
To aid companies, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidelines last week for handling religious diversity issues.
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