26 January 2016

Muslim Prayer Makes American Production Inefficient

Ariens Manufacturing
After one company fired its Muslim workers for not following the compromise agreement regarding the procedure to follow when they pray, Ariens Manufacturing in Brillion, Wisconsin found that out recently.

Islamic faith requires Muslims to pray five times a day. Until the new policy was announced early this year, Muslim employees at Ariens were permitted to leave their station at the production line to pray twice during their shifts. While practicing the five-minute prayer, the Muslim employees would allocate their duties amongst coworkers.

The policy change affects 53 workers, and only ten of these employees have indicated that they would like to continue working at Ariens under the new policy.

"We pray by the time," a former Ariens employee Ibrahim Mehemmed told WBAY. "So they say, 'If you don’t pray at the break time,' they give us this [unemployment] paper to just leave."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that employers do not have to accommodate a religious practice if it causes "undue hardship" to the company by decreasing "workplace efficiency."

"Unless they can prove 'undue hardship,' and that is definitely what is at the heart of the matter," then the policy change is illegal, Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview.

"What one company thinks is an undue hardship is not actually. It is always a matter of debate and compromise." Mr. Hooper notes that federal law requires employers to offer "reasonable religious accommodations" to workers of all faith.

But Ariens has thus far stood by their policy change.

"We are open to any of the employees returning to work under the new policy or will look for openings in shifts that do not coincide with prayer time,” the company said in a statement. “We respect their faith, and we respect their decision regardless of their choice to return to work or not.”

Many are lauding Arien’s policy because the community knows it soon cause a mass exodus by Green Bay’s extremist Muslims.

"If someone tells you, 'you pray on your break,' and the break time is not the prayer time, it will be impossible to pray," employee Masjid Imam Hasan Abdi told WBAY News. "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."

CAIR was involved in a similar dispute earlier this month at a Cargill meat processing plant in Colorado. The outcome at Cargill may serve as a model for Ariens, as both sides seem to be working towards a compromise.

Last 23 December, Cargill fired some 130 employees for violating the company’s attendance policy while protesting changes to time allowed for Muslim prayer.

If the protesting employees want to come back to work they will be eligible for rehire within 30 days, far less than the previous six-month probation period. Cargill spokesman Michael Martin said the beef-plant has been operating "at a significantly reduced capacity," due to the firings and there is "certainly a desire to full staff" and operate at full capacity.

The plant has two reflection rooms for all of its 2,100 employees to use for prayer. "There are times where we have to sequence how many people are allowed to go [to pray] so that production is not slowed down," Martin told CNN.