A local American Muslim group has praised retailer Amazon for opening a new sorting facility which accommodates Muslim employees by offering them ablution and prayer spaces.
“Amazon, when they initially came to Minnesota, they hired a lot of Muslims and they seemed to not really understand how to accommodate their diverse workforce,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director for Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), told KSTP.com.
“I think Amazon, since I would say in the past four or five years, has done a really great job of beginning to recognize the value that they say about their employees, but placing that also in creating inclusive spaces,” Hussein said.
The new 550,000 square feet “sortation center” sits on Hudson Road in Woodbury. It has about 300 workers, the majority of who are part of Minnesota’s Somali Muslim community.
“Amazon does pride itself in its ability to listen to the employees to make sure that they have that direct conduit to leaders of our facilities [and] to make sure that they have the safest and most inclusive workplaces possible,” said Scott Seroka, regional public relations manager with Amazon.
In what’s regarded as first time for Amazon in Minnesota, the new warehouse included several prayer rooms, accompanied by hand- and feet-washing stations for Muslims wanting to perform wudu’ or ablution.
“They’re quiet spaces that people can go to practice their religion,” Seroka said. “[They can] take the time that they need to practice their faith in the middle of their workday.”
According to Amazon, it has more than 100 fulfillment centers across the US. The centers employ more than 125,000 full-time employees.
The state of Minnesota has a population of nearly six million people. No more than 1% of this number are Muslims who have over 30 mosques across the north state.