The Ariens manufacturing plant in Wisconsin has upset many of the 53 Muslim workers who make its lawn mowers and snow blowers with a policy change that now disallows impromptu prayer breaks during production shifts.
According to WBAY-TV
, about 50 Somali Muslims used to leave the production line twice a shift for five minutes at a time to pray while other employees covered their position. (Muslim beliefs require praying five times a day.)
As of Thursday, however, Ariens has changed the policy that allows them to leave in the middle of their shifts, and enforcement is scheduled to begin Jan. 25.
"We are asking employees to pray during scheduled breaks in designated prayer rooms. Our manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production," the company said in a statement.
This was unacceptable to many of the Muslims who work at Ariens.
"If someone tells you, 'You pray on your break,' and the break time is not the prayer time? It will be impossible to pray," said Green Bay's Masjid Imam Hasan Abdi.
"If they got fired now, there’s no way they’ll get to stay in Green Bay. They’ll have to move to find work," he added.
Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO of the multi-state Brillion-based company, said that a dip in productivity on the production line has prompted the enforcement of a 25-year-old break policy, WFRV-TV reported
"If I'm on a team of assemblers of ten and two clock out, all ten of them have to stop, not just the two," said Ariens.
He also explained that some other employees weren't comfortable with the breaks.
"When the team sees that some are getting unscheduled breaks, paid or unpaid, it just doesn't seem fair to the rest," said Ariens.
Ariens said that so far 10 of the 53 Muslims at the plant have said they will stay with the company.
According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, "an employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer… [such as] decreased efficiency," WBAY-TV reported.
© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.