Muslims File Discrimination Suit Over Prayer Against Former Employer

By: Daniel Steingold | May 25, 2016

This Tuesday, a Wisconsin-based equipment manufacturer of lawn tractors and snowblowers had a discrimination complaint filed against it by an Islamic advocacy group.

CAIR, or the Council on American Islamic Relations, alleges that Ariens Co. stopped allowing Muslim employees to take breaks at designated times for prayer.

Per a new policy that was enforced beginning on January 25th, employees were given two pre-determined 10-minute long breaks for prayer, which didn’t align with the five times a day the Muslims engaged in prayer suggested by their religious beliefs.

Seven of the company’s employees quit earlier this year, while another 14 resigned over how they felt they were being treated.

CAIR believes that they have a valid case in that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, requiring employers to make all accommodations possible. The fact that Ariens supposedly disallowed extended or additional breaks to the ones allotted, threatening to fire employees if they behaved otherwise, prompted CAIR to believe that there is legal recourse.

The suit could take months to investigate, much less settle, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, will likely get involved. Should the claims prove to have any legal validity, the EEOC could serve as a mediator, or help the parties come to a mutual settlement.

For their part, Ariens is disappointed by the news of the litigation. They claim that they have had Muslim employees working for the firm for nine years, and still provide their remaining 27 Muslim employees with prayer accommodations.

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