For eight months, Issak Horor delayed his floating break time to say his dusk prayers. That was until Sunday, when his employer, Gold’n Plump, a St. Cloud-based chicken processing company, told him that he wasn’t eligible to do that anymore.

“I told them that God made me eligible to pray five times a day,” said Horor in a telephone interview from his home in Rochester.

Horor, 25, is one of three workers who left the company’s Arcadia, Wis., facility Monday over the prayer time dispute. At least two other workers quit in solidarity with their fellow Muslims.

Horor said he feels he was forced out. “They asked me to not delay my break time or to hand in my badge,” he said. “Having bad and worse options, I chose the bad one: to hand in my badge.”

Julie Berling, a spokeswoman for Gold’n Plump, said the company was able to accommodate most workers who needed to pray with a new floating schedule.

“However, due to unavoidable production line limitations, a few employees were put on the waiting list for a floating break schedule,” Berling said in an e-mail message.

Horor said his employer failed to understand that his strict prayer schedule can’t be put on a waiting list. . .

Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation of their employees’ religious observations, unless that creates an undue hardship to the business. It’s not clear whether that law was violated in this case. Just last month, new legislation that would make it easier for employees to practice their faith in the workplace was introduced in the Congress.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask employees to not pray for a while,” said Valerie Shirley, communications director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is handling the case. She said she is trying to speak with Gold’n Plump officials about the matter and to supply them with “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” a booklet about Muslims in the workplace.


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