Update on Ariens Company, Muslim Employee Controversy

7 Muslim employees fired, 14 resigned, 32 to continue employment ... Muslim employees upset because break rule disrupts prayer schedule; company and its non-Muslim employees concerned that unscheduled breaks disrupt manufacturing flow.

UPDATE (February 5) — As reported by the (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel, Ariens Co. says it has fired seven Muslim employees for taking unscheduled prayer breaks, 14 others have resigned, and another 32 have chosen to stay with the company and work within the break policy.

"We handled this with the same straightforward approach we use every day at Ariens Company. Recognizing there are language barriers and cultural differences, we allowed for extra time. We would have liked for more of the employees to stay, however, we respect their faith, we respect the work they have done for Ariens Company, and we respect their decisions," the company told the Journal Sentinel.


January 19 — According to a report by a FOX News affiliate in Green Bay, WI, power equipment manufacturer Ariens Company is standing by its recent announcement to begin enforcing its employee break policy. The announcement drew attention because the company’s numerous Muslim employees had reportedly been taking unscheduled breaks to pray, and were now crying foul.

Ariens Company’s official position is that employees can pray during their two scheduled breaks. Dan Ariens, CEO, said some of the company’s non-Muslim employees had raised concerns about fairness, due to the fact that their Muslim counterparts were taking additional, unscheduled breaks throughout the day.

"Let's say I'm on an assembly line with 10 people, and two of those people take an unscheduled break,” Dan Ariens said. “Everything stops. Those two people might be using five minutes but the other eight are standing there waiting for those five minutes.”

Ariens Company and Dan Ariens in particular have been huge proponents of LEAN manufacturing principles for many years.

On January 18, eight of the Ariens Company’s Muslim employees met with the Council on American Islamic Relations in Minneapolis. The executive director of the group, Jaylani Hussein, said employees want to have more talks with the company so all of their needs are met.

Muslim employees have until January 25 to decide if they will return to work at Ariens.

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