Many American businesses have gone to great lengths to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of their employees.
For businesses employing Muslims, this often means dealing with their need to stop everything they are doing so they can pray in the direction of Mecca five times per day, which can become quite disruptive to a business and is unfair towards non-Muslim employees who don’t stop for prayer breaks.
It seems that at least one manufacturing firm in Wisconsin has had enough of the disruptions and loss of production caused by multiple Muslim prayer breaks per day, and recently implemented a new policy to put a stop to it, according to WBAY.
Ariens Manufacturing,near Green Bay, employs several dozen Somali Muslims, but had grown tired of their leaving the production line twice per day to pray — breaks which typically take 10 to 15 minutes — and leaving the non-Muslim employees to pick up the slack while they are gone.
On Thursday, Ariens implemented a new prayer-on-the-job policy that instructs Muslim employees to conduct their prayers during regularly scheduled break times enjoyed by all employees, which of course drew complaints from the Muslim employees.
A statement from Ariens read: “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 new policy was delivered to the Muslim employees along with unemployment forms they could fill out if they refused to abide by the new policy, but that only made some of the Muslim employees angrier.
“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 Masjid Imam Hasan Abdi.
“We pray by the time. So they say, ‘If you don’t pray at the break time,’ they give us this (unemployment) paper to just leave,” said now-former Ariens equipment painter Ibrahim Mehemmed.
Ariens made it clear through its statement that it is open to working with the employees to find spots on other shifts that wouldn’t coincide with their prayer times, and welcomed any Muslim employee willing to abide by its rules.
It also appears that the new policy put in place by Ariens will stand up to any scrutiny even from the Muslim-friendly Obama administration, as it complies with the regulations set forth by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that state “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.”
Hopefully, other businesses tstruggling to maintain efficient production levels because of multiple unscheduled prayer breaks by Muslim employees will follow the lead of Ariens and implement similar policies.