Many employers in America have gone to great lengths to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of their employees.
For businesses that employ Muslims, it 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. It goes without saying how disruptive to production such accommodations can be, not to mention how it can result in complaints from other employees who aren’t Muslim.
At least one Wisconsin manufacturer has had enough of the disruptions and production loss as a result of multiple Muslim prayer breaks per day.
Ariens Manufacturing employs several dozen Somali Muslims and couldn’t help but notice how they would leave 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.
In an effort to curb the unscheduled breaks Ariens implemented a new on-the-job prayer policy. Muslims have been instructed to conduct their prayers during regularly scheduled break times enjoyed by all employees. Of course, this 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 struggling to maintain efficient production levels because of multiple unscheduled prayer breaks by Muslim employees will follow the lead of Ariens and implement similar policies.
Source: ABC 2