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Wisconsin Manufacturing Plant Changes Rules to Take Away Muslim Prayer Breaks

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+6 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:15 AM
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A manufacturing plant in Wisconsin has changed its prayer policy to prevent dozens of Muslim employees from worshipping on the job — and threatened to fire them if they don’t like it, workers said.

Ariens Company, a Brillion-based maker of snow blowers and lawn mowers, used to allow the 53 Muslims who work at its headquarters plant to take two breaks a day — for five minutes at a time — to fit in their ritual prayers, according to WBAY.

But that abruptly changed Thursday, when the company sent out a statement saying it “does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production” — even for prayer.





Furious Muslim employees said they can now only fit in daily prayers during their lunch breaks, which likely do not conincide with their prayer times. Muslim scripture requires five daily prayers, each at the same times every day.

Some workers said that when they complained, their bosses handed them unemployment papers.



The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission says that employers do not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs if they “cause undue hardship” to the company, including a decrease of “workplace efficiency.” Muslim workers at the Brillion plant said other employees took over their tasks during their prayer breaks.


Ariens Company Changes Prayer Policy

So apparently, under the law, an employer is not required to provide additional breaks to people so that they can follow a religious practice that would interfere with the performance of their jobs and would result in a reduction in workplace efficiency.

The fact that, prior to this policy change, other workers took over their tasks for them, only means that during prayer breaks the work normally performed by 53 non-muslim workers was not getting done.

I would think that there was likely a fairness issue associated with this decision as well. That is, why do non-muslims get 10 minutes per day less paid break-time?

And, apparently, Ariens isn't the only Company to have recently taken similar action...


After a dispute over Muslim prayer time, about 150 employees at Cargill's sprawling Fort Morgan, Colo., plant didn't show up for work for three days — grounds for termination. They were fired. Some of those workers claimed they weren't allowed to take prayer breaks, while Cargill claimed that it was still following its policy allowing the breaks.



On Dec. 18, some Somali workers didn't get the chance to take prayer breaks, which CAIR says was the culmination of long-standing tensions over prayer breaks at the plant.

Cargill said that on that day, 11 Somali workers in one part of the plant all wanted to pray at once during the second shift. Normally, the company allows only one to three to go at a time during a shift so as not to interfere with meat production.

Cargill initially said 10 Somali workers resigned at the end of the shift after the dispute and that 180 didn't call in or show up for the first three days of the following workweek, and were thus terminated.


Cargill Fires 150 Muslim Workers Who Refused to Show Up For Work

In this case, Muslim workers decided on their own to leave their workstations in greater numbers than allowed (11 left to pray instead of up to 3), and then decided to either resign or refuse to come back to work on their next scheduled shift, when they were told this was not acceptable.

In the first place, personally, I agree with the premise that people...of any religion or other persuasion...must follow the lawful Company policies of their employer that apply to everyone. If they have a moral (or other) objection to a workplace practice, then they can decide not to work for that employer (which the Cargill employees apparently did).

As the population of Muslims gradually increase in the United States and other Western countries, with immigration, refugee programs, and childbirth, this type of friction/clash is only going to increase.

I think that, and it is only a personal opinion, this is a case where Muslims need to understand that they are free to worship as they please in Western society - but that society, and business enterprises in particular, are not required to bend to religious demands which would have a negative impact (or would, as a consequence, disadvantage those not of the Muslim faith).

I imagine that there are many people of the Jewish faith who believe that they should not work on Saturdays, or Christians who believe the same about Sundays. I am quite sure that if a Jewish or Christian employee refused to work on these days, for a job that normally requires them to do so, they would meet the same fate as these workers at Ariens and Cargill.

Probably far from the last time we hear stories like these...



+49 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:27 AM
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If their religion doesn't mesh with their employers rules, then they need to find another place to work. Funny how everyone wants to claim freedom of religion to protect Muslims praying during working hours, but those same people are the first to say a religious baker should be forced to bake cakes for gay weddings.


+32 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:34 AM
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a reply to: mobiusmale
As it should be. This is not a culture built around Islam. If I move to a different country, I expect to make allowances for their customs and culture. If I don't like it, I don't expect them to change their culture for me. That's not how it works. The old saying is... "When in Rome..."


+42 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:35 AM
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Religion should be practiced at home or temple, not work...

Common sense factor prevails once again.



+7 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:39 AM
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originally posted by: Klassified
a reply to: mobiusmale
As it should be. This is not a culture built around Islam. If I move to a different country, I expect to make allowances for their customs and culture. If I don't like it, I don't expect them to change their culture for me. That's not how it works. The old saying is... "When in Rome..."


Exactly.

In China, for example, Christmas is just another day. Employers there would never, not for one second, consider caving in to a demand by Christian workers that they should not be compelled to work on this day (or Good Friday/Easter).

The difficulty is that, especially for "recent arrival" Muslims, they do not seem to grasp this concept.



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:41 AM
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a reply to: Edumakated


Funny how everyone wants to claim freedom of religion to protect Muslims praying during working hours, but those same people are the first to say a religious baker should be forced to bake cakes for gay weddings.




Please show a source either on ATS or from somewhere else where you came up with that "assumption".

I am against anyone using their religion to either discriminate against LGBT people and I am against Religious folk using their "Chosen" faith to require an employer to bend over backwards to accommodate prayers sessions etc. The only time IMHO it would be acceptable for a workforce to drop tools and start praying is if the entire workforce and business owners were Muslim and the company was run as such!!

Religion has no place in a workplace IMO and so your assumptions that those folk against the baker discriminating against a gay couple and being OK with people being treated differently in the work place due to their "Chosen" religious beliefs in mute!
edit on 18.1.2016 by flammadraco because: (no reason given)


+24 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:42 AM
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Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

If you don't want to integrate into the society you currently live, leave and find one more to your liking.

The problem lies not in the society but in your religions' backwards, stone age beliefs.


+13 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 10:52 AM
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Those 10 minute prayers add up to 65 hours a year, better than a week and a half off on company time to practice their religion. From the companies standpoint, times that by the amount of Muslims working there and I can see why their getting tired of it.



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 11:28 AM
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originally posted by: korath
Those 10 minute prayers add up to 65 hours a year, better than a week and a half off on company time to practice their religion. From the companies standpoint, times that by the amount of Muslims working there and I can see why their getting tired of it.


No it doesn't unless they work 390 days a year. Most people work around 250. 50*5 (assume 5 day work week, two weeks of vacation), so that's 250 * 10 = 2500. 2500 / 60 = 41 hours, 40 minutes.

What other things do people do for 10 minutes a day? Two brief restroom breaks? OMG HOLD IT YOU UNAMERICAN TIME THIEVING SCUM! PEE ON YOUR OWN TIME!



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 11:53 AM
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a reply to: PresidentCamacho

What are you even going on about?

1. In America, we have religious freedom. This means everyone is free to choose what faith if any they adhere to. There's nothing about being a Muslim that precludes integration into American society, least of all praying 5x a day. Furthermore, there seems to be an implicit assumption on your part that that these people are even immigrants in the first place. I wonder where that comes from? What you're really expressing is a belief that Americans should be Christians which is simply a matter of your own preference.

Would you appreciate an atheist like me telling you to move to Uganda if you want to live in a "Christian nation?"

2. Islam is the youngest of the Abrahamic religions by hundreds of years though I'm not sure what its age has to do with a requirement to pray 5x a day?

3. Break schedules vary greatly. I once worked for a company that allowed two 5 minute smoke breaks. Is that also un-American or do you only talk smack based on your religious bigotry?



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 11:56 AM
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They lost their scriptural prayer breaks.......which are unscriptural, deny freedom of the Spirit and disavow any semblance of the relationship spoken of in the original writings of Moses and the touted and sacred acknowledged sayings of Yahushua. As denoted in the Quran....no, as demanded in the Quran......to the extreme point of being outcast as a companion of bell......quoting islam



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 11:58 AM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Maybe some people get offended with religion on the job.

It *CAN* be insulting sometimes.




posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:06 PM
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originally posted by: BestinShow
Religion should be practiced at home or temple, not work...

Common sense factor prevails once again.



I hear what you are saying, and my first reaction was agreement with your statement ... However when someone is fully committed to their faith, there are no boundaries of home/house of worship/work. Faith is central to their life. You don't turn it on and off depending on your environment.

I don't leave my faith at home or at church, and I don't expect the devout of other faiths to do so either.

This doesn't mean the plant needs to make special a accommodations, though. They set the rules and people can decide that they either will or will not be able to follow those rules. If they can't, they can find work elsewhere.

Faith issues aside ... It would be like me (a 20+ year long "devout" vegetarian) getting s job at a slaughterhouse but then refusing to kill and process animals because it goes against my personal beliefs. Ridiculous. I would never seek out a job that didn't fit my requirements to begin with! Likewise, Muslims should seek work where they know their need can be accommodated.

I understand their upset because the employer used to be accommodating and now is not ... Time to dust off their resumes!



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:09 PM
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originally posted by: VegHead

originally posted by: BestinShow
Religion should be practiced at home or temple, not work...

Common sense factor prevails once again.



I hear what you are saying, and my first reaction was agreement with your statement ... However when someone is fully committed to their faith, there are no boundaries of home/house of worship/work. Faith is central to their life. You don't turn it on and off depending on your environment.

I don't leave my faith at home or at church, and I don't expect the devout of other faiths to do so either.

This doesn't mean the plant needs to make special a accommodations, though. They set the rules and people can decide that they either will or will not be able to follow those rules. If they can't, they can find work elsewhere.

Faith issues aside ... It would be like me (a 20+ year long "devout" vegetarian) getting s job at a slaughterhouse but then refusing to kill and process animals because it goes against my personal beliefs. Ridiculous. I would never seek out a job that didn't fit my requirements to begin with! Likewise, Muslims should seek work where they know their need can be accommodated.

I understand their upset because the employer used to be accommodating and now is not ... Time to dust off their resumes!


I agree with this sentiment, unfortunately people are not allowed to do so least they be deemed bigots, and taken to court. Even if they OWN the Restaurant, shoe store or bakery.


+3 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:16 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Yeah, you got me on the math, course they can't pray and use the bathroom at the same time, so I would assume they also get restroom breaks on top of the prayer breaks. Still, 41 hours and 40 minutes add up to a work week plus. I'm sure a company paying people by the hour take note of that.



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:18 PM
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a reply to: mobiusmale



Exactly.

In China, for example, Christmas is just another day. Employers there would never, not for one second, consider caving in to a demand by Christian workers that they should not be compelled to work on this day (or Good Friday/Easter).

The difficulty is that, especially for "recent arrival" Muslims, they do not seem to grasp this concept.



So what are you implying? That we should strive to have employment practices more in line with China? I'm going to guess no but your desire to make a thinly veiled statement of belief that America is a "Christian nation" has caused a breakdown in your capacity for reason.

Let's take a different approach. If the workers were hired with an understanding that company policy allowed two five minute breaks for prayer, then why shouldn't they be upset with the change in policy? Do you simply believe that workers in general cannot have grievances stemming from changes in company policy?

In the state I live in, the only legal mandate is a 30 minute lunch break for shifts over 6 hours (and that break doesn't have to be paid). However, it's common practice to additionally provide two 15 minute paid breaks in an 8 hour shift. I can guarantee that at the average manufacturing plant here, if the companies take away those 15 minute breaks, the workers are going to be pissed off. Worse yet, what if a company went from a Mon-Fri schedule to a Sun-Thur production schedule on a whim. Would you hold a similarly callous view of the grievances of fundamentalist Christians who now found that they were arbitrarily being forced to choose between observing the Sabbath and keeping their jobs?

What has you and many posters in this thread filled with baseless self-righteous indignation is the religious component, specifically that the employees in question are Muslims.


+7 more 
posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:18 PM
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I can't believe the company had a "prayer policy" in the first place...

This has been my position all along: If a company WANTS to make accommodations for religious employees, and everyone is treated equally, that's fine. But stopping production on the floor for any reason (except an emergency) is not something an employer should have to do. And their co-workers shouldn't have to cover for them.

If they work on a line, especially, you can't just be leaving your station at any time.



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:27 PM
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a reply to: VegHead


Faith issues aside ... It would be like me (a 20+ year long "devout" vegetarian) getting s job at a slaughterhouse but then refusing to kill and process animals because it goes against my personal beliefs. Ridiculous. I would never seek out a job that didn't fit my requirements to begin with! Likewise, Muslims should seek work where they know their need can be accommodated.


Your analogy is invalid. Remember that the company policy was to allow the breaks. The company policy has changed. These aren't workers who entered into an employment arrangement and then tried to renege.

I think a lot of posters are missing this completely.



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:34 PM
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originally posted by: theantediluvian
a reply to: VegHead


Faith issues aside ... It would be like me (a 20+ year long "devout" vegetarian) getting s job at a slaughterhouse but then refusing to kill and process animals because it goes against my personal beliefs. Ridiculous. I would never seek out a job that didn't fit my requirements to begin with! Likewise, Muslims should seek work where they know their need can be accommodated.


Your analogy is invalid. Remember that the company policy was to allow the breaks. The company policy has changed. These aren't workers who entered into an employment arrangement and then tried to renege.

I think a lot of posters are missing this completely.


You are absolutely right - this is a poor and irrelevant analogy. I'm sorry, I hope it doesn't add to confusion of central issue at hand.

As I said in my post, I can understand their upset for the very reason you pointed out. The company changed policy and went from being accommodating to not being accommodating. That does suck. The company has the right to set their rules, though. It would be nice if they could grandfather in current employees but that might not be fesible with the nature of production.
edit on 18-1-2016 by VegHead because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 18 2016 @ 12:34 PM
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originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic
I can't believe the company had a "prayer policy" in the first place...

This has been my position all along: If a company WANTS to make accommodations for religious employees, and everyone is treated equally, that's fine. But stopping production on the floor for any reason (except an emergency) is not something an employer should have to do. And their co-workers shouldn't have to cover for them.

If they work on a line, especially, you can't just be leaving your station at any time.


Exactly. I work with a number of devout Catholics. They go to church on holy days, say Ash Wednesday, during their lunch hour. They get no special religious breaks during the day.



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