GREEN BAY – Dozens of Muslim employees at Ariens Manufacturing in Green Bay, Wisconsin, were forced to leave their jobs after their company changed its prayer-on-the-job policy, demanding Muslims to pray only during work break.
“If someone tells you, ‘You pray on your break,’ and the break time is not the prayer time? It will be impossible to pray,” Green Bay Masjid Imam Hasan Abdi told ABC 2, WBAY, on Friday, January 15.
The amendment of the prayer rules on work was announced on Thursday.
We are asking employees to pray during scheduled breaks in designated prayer rooms. Our manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production,” a spokesperson for the Brillion-based equipment manufacturer said in a statement.
Before this week, Muslim employees by Ariens were allowed to leave the production line twice a shift to pray two of the five prayers their faith requires of them daily.
They prayed five minutes at a time, designating their specific duties to colleagues.
The policy change affects 53 Muslim workers at Ariens.
“I have been 35 years in America and I’ve never heard of a company that is not allowing its employees to pray five minutes. It is absolutely discrimination on its face,” said Adan Hurr.
“Allow me to pray so that I can go back to work and do what I love to do, which is working for Ariens. But we are not allowed to do that. Yesterday what happened was just a travesty,” he said.
The decision was expected to affect the future of Muslim population in Green Bay, imam said.
“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,” he said.
Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.
The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.