Four days ago, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against a Wisconsin company that fired 7 Muslim employees for taking unscheduled time to pray. They were observing the teachings of their religion. They were practicing their faith as enshrined in the constitution of the United States. Yet they lost their job – their means of livelihood – consequently. Why?
On hearing the news, the first thought that may prop up the mind of an average Joe is that the discriminatory white employers is at it again. They hate Muslims. They are intolerant of the Muslim faith. And of course they hate those who do not look like them. So they fired them.
But are any of these probable claims factual in this context?
First, if the employers hated these Muslim employees, they wouldn’t have hired them in the first place.
But that is not the crux of the matter. The issue here is about an individual’s right to practice his or her religion as he or she deems fit at his or her place of work.
When an employer hires you, depending on your role at the organization, you can either have a one-time one-hour lunch break for every single day you walk through the front doors of the company. And the rest of your time at the company for that day will be dedicated to doing the business of your employer. Or for some who work at a high demand manufacturing environment, you can have a one-hour or 90 minutes allotted break time which can be broken down to 3 or less number of breaks (at the discretion of your supervisor) to give you time to rejuvenate yourself for optimum performance.
Now your break time, be it a one-off one hour lunch break, or a 90 minutes multiple break times, are yours to use for whatever personal use you deem fit. You can go on a date with it. You can pray to God with it. You can be on your phone for the duration of your break. Or just like me, you can go to the breakroom and seek out folks who do not work in your department and you know, network with them. You can put to any personal and private use your entitled break time for each day you go to work. It is your own. But once your break time is over, the rest of your time belongs to your employer who is actually paying you for those times. Whether your religion demands that you pray seven times a day or not.