Wisconsin Manufacturing Company Ariens Issues New Prayer Policy, Muslim Employees Unhappy

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
January 17, 2016 Updated: January 17, 2016

A Wisconsin manufacturing company that changed its prayer policy has come under fire from Muslim employees, but the head of the company has fired back in a public statement.

Ariens Company previously allowed its Muslim employees to leave the production line twice a shift to pray for five minutes at a time.

But because of the difficulty such an arrangement engendered, the company recently changed its policy. 

“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 said.

Some Muslim employees are unhappy with the new arrangement, claiming that praying only during a meal break goes against their religion. 

“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,” Adan Hurr told WBAY

“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.”

But company head Dan Ariens said in a statement that the issue has been twisted, and that any reports saying workers had been fired under the new policy are false—if they leave, it’s their choice, he said.

“We are asking employees to use two scheduled breaks for religious observation, and are offering designated prayer rooms. Additionally, we are also offering to look for positions on other shifts that might better accommodate prayer obligations. This change affected 53 employees. More than ten of the employees have contacted Ariens Company to say they will return to work under the new policy. And we welcome their return,” said Ariens.

“We continue to be open to any of the employees returning to work under the new policy and I have sent a letter to each of them re-stating that offer. Let me be clear: we respect their faith, we respect the work they have done at Ariens, and we respect their decision regardless of their choice to return to work or not.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.