7 Muslim employees at the Ariens Manufacturing Company in Brillion, Wisconsin have been fired after continuing to take unscheduled prayer breaks after the company changed its policy to eliminate these breaks.
The company has 53 Muslim employees at the Brillion manufacturing plant, and has been trying to get them to adapt to a new company policy which limits prayer breaks to scheduled times throughout the day, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.
The company cited a need to limit 'unscheduled breaks in production' as the main reason behind the rule change, according to the New York Daily News.
The company has said it respects the workers' faith, a statement which was criticized by Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), WPR reports.
"They respect the workers all the way out the door apparently. You don't respect people very much if you terminate them."
CAIR had previously called upon Ariens to find common ground with their workers and to have “respect for constitutionally-protected religious rights and for the legitimate needs of both employees and employers," according to the New York Daily News.
In response to questions about why the workers were fired, Ariens responded with the following statement:
“Recognizing there are language barriers and cultural differences, we allowed for extra time. We would have liked for more of the employees to stay, however, we respect their faith, we respect the work they have done for Ariens Company and we respect their decisions.”
32 of the company's Muslim employees decided to stay working at the plant while another 14 quit after the first 7 were fired.
Green Bay Masjid Imam Hasan Abdi argues that Ariens' new policy will make it difficult or impossible for many Muslim employees to pray during the day.
“If they get fired now, there’s no way they can stay in Green Bay. They have to move."