The Meatpacking Factory

2 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Nicholas Stewart

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

The manager of a meatpacking factory allows his 100-plus Muslim workers to take breaks believing that it is an appropriate response to the religious needs of this large part of his employee base. But the breaks have begun to interfere with the overall operation of the plant, resulting in a loss of productivity. Other employees have become irritated resenting what they see as preferential treatment. Because of the productivity issues, other employees' complaints, and concerns about the credibility of his management, the manager considers reneging on his agreement.

Excerpt

UVA-E-0369

Rev. Oct. 8, 2013

The Meatpacking Factory

James Windham was the manager of JBS & Company, a meatpacking factory whose 500 employees included over 100 Muslim workers. The majority of these workers had emigrated from Somalia. Windham was pleased with their hard work and commitment to jobs that were less than glamorous, and he considered them essential employees.

When he had hired the Muslim workers, Windham had agreed to allow them to have their breaks at sunset so that they could properly observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Although such an exception was an irregularity, Windham believed it was an appropriate response to the religious needs of such a large percentage of his employee base.

Since the start of Ramadan, the Muslim workers' break times had become more of an issue than he had expected. Because of the constant shift of both sunrise and sunset, Windham was faced with the logistical problem of planning the factory workday. In fact, while he had viewed the decision to allow the breaks at varying times in an effort to be flexible, he found the new schedule was just the opposite. During the other months of the year, workers' breaks were often adjusted based on daily tasks, and if a job that had been started early in the morning looked as though it would encroach upon the usual break time, employees had no problem simply moving the break back. But now with the Muslim workers needing to take breaks at very precise times, focus and momentum were often lost, resulting in loss of productivity.

. . .

Keywords: business ethics, ethical situations, stakeholder management, religion, Islam, Muslim, leadership, diversity, employee accommodation, factory, meatpacking, cultural sensitivity, workforce relations

Suggested Citation

Wicks, Andrew and Mead, Jenny and Stewart, Nicholas, The Meatpacking Factory. Darden Case No. UVA-E-0369. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974174

Andrew Wicks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Nicholas Stewart

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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