In the past, dozens of U.S. manufacturers have responded positively to Muslim worker requests for prayer-related religious accommodations, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has advocated for workers at both Ariens and Cargill. Sometimes it requires some extra give-and-take, but companies are usually able to reach agreements with employees, advocates say. What’s unnerving this time, they add, is the harsh and unforgiving response from employers.

Demonstrating that accommodation poses undue hardship can be tricky for employers. “It’s a very fact-specific analysis and very much depends on the circumstances at the company,” said Steve Suflas, a Denver attorney for Ballard Spahr, a prominent management-side law firm.

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