A dispute between Somali Muslim workers and a Wisconsin manufacturing plant has centered around prayer breaks, as CAIR has filed a religious discrimination complaint on the workers’ behalf.
he Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a religious discrimination complaint on Tuesday, in an ongoing debate over prayer breaks between a Wisconsin manufacturing company and Muslim workers.
Ariens Co., which manufactures snow blowers and lawnmowers at a plant outside Green Bay, Wis., fired seven of its Muslim employees in January, and another 14 resigned, after the company told Muslim workers they should stop taking an extra break for prayer, Laura Putre reported for Industry Week.
The prayer break dispute has reached its fifth month without resolution and highlights the challenges of balancing religious accommodation with work schedules, especially in a multicultural setting.
The company had hired the workers, Somali immigrants from Green Bay, several months earlier and accommodated them with both prayer rooms and a bus service to help with the 40-minute commute. A dispute arose in January after the non-Muslim workers complained the Somali workers were taking extra breaks for prayer time, sometimes without communicating with supervisors. The company told workers to stick to two 10-minute breaks, and 53 workers walked off the job in protest.
Muslim beliefs require five daily prayers, spaced throughout the day, and many Muslims adjust their prayer times to accommodate work, school, or travel. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to accommodate a religious practice such as prayer unless it causes the company “undue hardship” 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,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director told The Christian Science Monitor in January. “What one company thinks is an undue hardship is not actually. It is always a matter of debate and compromise.”
The company hired translators to help navigate the cultural and linguistic barriers in the prayer-break dispute. The workers offered to take their third break without pay, but the company was concerned about the cost of work stoppages.
“My advice to any employer is before you take an action … see if there’s a way to work it out without escalating the situation. Because a lot of the time, usually a consensus can be reached,” Susan Warner, an employment attorney with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, told Industry Week. “My impression is that [Ariens] does value these employees, and this [breakdown in communication] may be a cultural thing.”
In representing the Muslim workers, CAIR said it will push to have them reinstated with back pay.
“In this case, it seemed that things were going well. Ariens obviously had Muslim employees that were taking their prayer breaks and operating efficiently,” Mr. Hooper told the Monitor. “What changed?”
The company spokeswoman noted that hiring the Somali workers had increased the number of Muslims at the plant significantly, so although the company does not discourage religious observance – even providing prayer rooms – the breaks had a bigger impact, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.
Since CAIR has filed an official complaint, the Milwaukee office of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will conduct a months-long investigation to determine whether the group can file a lawsuit on behalf of the workers, the Press-Gazette reported.


  1. ..... Personally I don't think that people who will not assimilate to The Constitutional Republic of The United States of America ,her laws and customs etc. should be allowed inside the borders of the U.S. and her territories. My personal advice to all employers is ....DO NOT HIRE THEM ! These people , while smiling at you and pretending to be so nice to you, are taking the money that they in-graciously earn from you to Mosque where they tithe to Islam . A portion of each tithe is then sent to support terrorist groups around the planet who perform the Jihad for all of Islam . There is no peaceful Islam . Only Islam with each Islamist doing their small part to advance Islam to world dominance . A world government called Islam with a world law called Sharia and killing anyone and everyone who will not submit to Islam as commanded by their book The Koran .

  2. In the United States you work 8 hours a day, your entitled to two 15-minute breaks without leaving the building, and any where from a 1/2 hour -1-Hour lunch break which you must clock out for, and with in that time limit do what ever you wish to do, as long as your back from your dinner break on time, and if not, then you should consult with your supervisor ahead of that time. We don't care how may times they feel the need to pray because it seems they have taken prayers out of our schools, and work places, and they work here in our states, which provide enough breaks and lunch for them to do their praying at that time. Otherwise, go work some where else. Why would this be okay for them to take extra breaks and while others are still working and not getting the extra time for an extra break. If everybody took these kind of breaks nothing would get done. There is a reason for people to work and that is to produce what ever products they serve the purpose for. And why are they able to even pray at work, and at school, when our kids aren't allowed any longer. Here we go again, this is United States, and they follow our rules, and our laws, we don't follow theirs, nor should be have to honor theirs. They can pray when they get off for lunch, or go home, hell if they want to they can pray right where they are standing at while they work. You can pray without have to kneel. If it were up to me, they would be able to pray all day long if they liked, because they would be in their own country instead of being here.

  3. It's really not a difficult situation; something can very likely be worked out- and 10 minutes of prayer is not different from somebody taking a cigarette break- and there's plenty of jobs where people seem to do that all day.

    Also, mosques have been heavily scrutinized by the FBI since 2001 and findings all lead to the fact that 'collecting money for global terrorists' is largely done far more on the internet than anywhere else- not in mosque collections. Moreover, especially since then, mainly because of a renewed commitment among mosque leaders to confront extremism and function and practice as bastions of their communities as any other common church would- like holding weekend classes for children, offer charity to the poor, provide counseling services and conducting interfaith programs.

    Also, in Islam, sharia ("the Way" to God) theoretically governs every human act. But Muslims do not agree on what sharia says; there is no one sharia book of laws. Most mosques in America do not teach Islamic law for a simple reason: It's too complicated for the average believer and even for some imams.

    Islamic law includes not only the Koran and the Sunna (the traditions of the prophet Muhammad) but also great bodies of arcane legal rulings and pedantic scholarly interpretations (known as Jurisprudence). If mosques forced Islamic law upon their congregants, most Muslims would probably leave -- just as most Christians might walk out of the pews if preachers gave sermons exclusively on Saint Augustine, canon law and Greek grammar. Instead, mosques study the Koran and the Sunna and how the principles and stories in those sacred texts apply to their everyday lives.


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