MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Seven Muslim workers at an eastern Wisconsin manufacturer have been fired after disregarding a break policy that did not allow them to pray at the times dictated by their faith, the company said on Wednesday.
The terminated workers were among 53 Somali Muslims who walked off the job on Jan. 14 after Ariens Company, a tools and equipment maker in Brillion, Wisconsin, began requiring them to pray only during the two 10-minute breaks provided to them during the day, the company said in a statement.
"It came out of nowhere and the company did not want to listen to some suggestions and options to make the current breaks more flexible to align with the prayer schedule," he said.
Ariens, which has 1,500 employees worldwide, has set up designated prayer rooms for Muslim workers in Brillion, the company said. Brillion is about 25 miles south of Green Bay.
The company said letting the workers pray during unscheduled breaks disrupted production schedules. In certain circumstances, workers can be prohibited from praying during unscheduled breaks if it causes an "undue hardship" for the business, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
I'm personally of the "your religion, sort it out" and it's clear here that the company were not exactly being difficult here.
The problem is that manufacturing depends on the line. I once interviewed at Honda and mid-interview, the interviewers had a tea break. I was like "wait, what" and off we went to the tea room for 15 minutes, before then returning for the interview. Despite being an office job, the rules were no drinks at workspaces, and fixed tea times. You weren't allowed to get a tea at other times. Silly for the office jobs, but they like this whole "everyone's equal" culture, so there you have it.
Tea breaks exist in manufacturing, like they don't in most offices, for this reason. It's about the synchronisation of work. You need the line running smoothly. If a bunch of people aren't there, it doesn't. That's why there's this window for tea breaks - the whole line might stop for that period, but that's the only stop it'll get. A call centre doesn't have this. The "switch" gives calls to people signed in - if you're not there, it goes to another advisor. Everyone goes when they want to (and this actually works better, because it means there's always people handling calls).
This company probably couldn't care less about a small number of people taking 10 minutes off for a prayer. The problem is that it screws up the line. The guy who fixes on the wheels is stood around waiting for you, with nothing to do.
Sunday, 7 February 2016