MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says it plans to meet Monday with workers fired from a Wisconsin snowblower manufacturer over breaks for daily prayers.
CAIR-MN, the largest civil rights advocacy group for Muslims in the country, says more than 50 workers were affected by a change in break policy at the Ariens plant in Brillion, Wisconsin, which is about 40 miles south of Green Bay.READ MORE: At Least 2 Dead In Head-On Crash Near Lake Mille Lacs
As of last week, the company had allowed its Muslim production workers short breaks so that they could observe two of their five daily prayers. The breaks were five minutes in length.
Last Thursday, Ariens’ break policy changed, WBAY.com reports. In a statement, the company said that only scheduled breaks could be taken. A spokesperson for Ariens said the company’s production environment “does not allow for unscheduled breaks.”
Muslim workers, however, called the new policy an act of discrimination.READ MORE: Parents Demand More Distance Learning Options As COVID Cases Rise Ahead Of School Year
“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,” worker Adan Hurr told WBAY.
“Allow me to pray so that I can go back to work and do what I love to do, which is working for Ariens,” Hurr added. “But we are not allowed to do that. [Thursday], what happened was just a travesty.”
Ariens says the recent change in policy affects 53 works, 10 of which have said they’ll comply with the new break times.
CAIR-MN says it’s asked that Ariens allow its Muslim workers to pray using the previous policy while a possible resolution is reached to accommodate the workers’ religious beliefs.MORE NEWS: Drought To Have Lasting Impact On Minnesota's Christmas Tree Farms
By law, employers do not have to accommodate their workers’ religious practices if they “cause more than a minimal burden” on business operations.