While it is well-known that most Muslims believe they are required by their faith to pray five times a day, the accommodations employers and coworkers are forced to make to provide extra breaks for prayer are rarely acknowledged until a business suffers irreparable economic damage.

In the United States, Muslims can go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with complaints against employers or file suit in court if they feel they have been subjected to discrimination based on religion, and some courts have ruled in their favor, but in as many instances, courts have found that “reasonable” accommodation is sufficient.

But in France, a major car plant was pushed to make ever-increasing demands for religious accommodations to the point that it was forced to close its doors.

Muslim prayer takes place at dawn, around noon, late afternoon, sunset and at bedtime, over a period of roughly 18 hours every day, excluding 8 hours for sleep.

This makes it difficult to imagine any work shift that would impinge on more than two prayer times, but companies are finding that not only are many Muslim employees demanding more frequent breaks to pray – in addition to the regular breaks provided all employees throughout the day, but extending prayer time beyond the typical 4 to 7 minutes it should require.

Muslims require a quiet place set aside for their prayer, as well as a place they can wash before prayer, adding to the time they spend away from their work, which co-workers are called upon to fill.

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the head of France’s center-right political party, says the PSA Peugeot Citroen plant In Aulnay closed in 2013 in large part because it had “hired too many unproductive Muslim employees.”

The auto manufacturer employed 3,000 people at the Aulnay facility four-hours south of Paris near the Atlantic coast, and although Lagarde acknowledged that the prayer breaks were not the only cause for the shut down, he claims a Peugeot official told him the lack of productivity of Muslim employees was part of the decision.

The Aulnay site closed because Muslim employees were constantly taking unscheduled prayer breaks and had become unproductive. It's the truth… it was one - but obviously not the only - of the reasons the plant was shut down.”

Mr. Lagarde added that he was not coming forward with the claims to upset Muslims, but to break the silence surrounding the financial costs of accommodating religious requirements of Muslim employees.

Read more here: www.express.co.uk

 
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