Ariens Co. in Brillion won't back away from policy change on prayer breaks

BRILLION — A Wisconsin manufacturer says it won't back away from a policy change that doesn't allow special prayer breaks for Muslim employees, despite an American-Islamic group's call for a compromise.

Fifty-three employees at Ariens Co. have left their jobs in protest after the Brillion manufacturer decided to enforce a policy of two 10-minute breaks per work shift.

Ariens had previously allowed Muslim employees to leave their work stations at different times to accommodate prayer. Ariens said Monday, January 18th it has tried to be sensitive to the employees, but the unscheduled prayer breaks disrupt production. The Council for America-Islamic Relations is asking the company to revert to its previous policy until a resolution can be reached.

The lawn mower and snow blower manufacturer employs about 900 people.