A national group is advising about 50 Muslim workers at the Ariens Company to go back to work, after the business decided to enforce its policy on unscheduled breaks.

The move announced last week was in response to some employees leaving their posts on the manufacturing line during specific prayer times, which fell outside of regularly scheduled breaks. Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says they have advised those impacted by the decision to go back to work, but not to give up the fight. “We’re urging the workers to stay on the job and request their reasonable religious accommodation as mandated by law, and we’ll see how the company responds,” he says.

Hooper says companies don’t have to honor the prayer request if it causes on undue hardship on the company. He doesn’t think that’s the case though, because Ariens used to allow Muslim workers to take prayer breaks at dawn and dusk. “We believe that since the workers have been allowed an accommodation previously, there should not be a problem to continue that.”

Ariens officials argued the unscheduled break time disrupted production in the facility, and could cost the snowmobile and lawn mower maker $1 million a year. The company also described it as an issue of fairness to other workers, who often had to work harder during those unscheduled breaks.

Contributed by Rick Schuh, WHBY

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