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Muslim workers fired following prayer dispute

For those of us living in the New York tri-state area, seeing a red Ariens Co. snowblower rolling up and down the sidewalks and driveways is a familiar and welcome sight for many. But, at its warehouse in Brillion, Wisconsin, the company will soon be met with federal discrimination and harassment complaints following the company's decision to enforce current break rules. These rules are allegedly affecting Muslim employees' prayer schedule.

In the past, the company has been flexible, even designating a prayer room for its employees. But, the prayer schedule has led to conflicts among fellow employees and disrupts production and the manufacturing facility. The company is now asking employees to adhere to the two 10 minute break policy per shift, which is also discussed at employee orientations.

Last month, 53 Muslim employees walked off the job in protest of the policy. Thirty-two employees returned and are now following the rules. Nonetheless, 14 employees resigned, and seven were fired.

Following the incident, the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated that the company merely wanted to "weed them out." The civil liberties group now plans to file a federal discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Ariens Co. with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity commission. The time of the filing has not yet been determined.

It is crucial for employees to understand their rights in the workplace. If employees believe their rights are being violated or are being subjected to discrimination or harassment due to their race, gender, age, religious beliefs or any form of employment discrimination, it may be wise to seek advice from a law professional to determine how to best proceed.

Source: Associated Press, "Wisconsin firm terminates Muslim workers in prayer dispute," Greg Moore, Feb. 3, 2016

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