Muslim workers say company made them choose their job or religion

- Your religion or your job. That's the decision more than a dozen local Muslim-Americans say they were forced to make by their employer.

They kept their faith but lost their jobs.

"They felt disrespected," said attorney Cary McGehee. "They felt like they weren't valued by the company and they felt insulted."

Hurt, shocked, upset and confused - that's how 26-year-old Dulal Ali says he felt when he says he was forced to choose.

"They're telling us choose between your religion or work - so I chose God, obviously," Ali said.

Along with 15 other Muslim workers, Ali had been working at Brose Jefferson in Warren back in May during Ramadan. The group was observing their religion by fasting from sunrise to sunset. They requested their meal break be changed to 9 p.m., instead of the usual 7 p.m.

"It's nothing new," Ali said. "They did it before for four or five years."

FOX 2: "So why not now?"

"I really don't know why not," Ali said.

The men added they have the same production manager who honored the Ramadan requests years prior.

"This year the production supervisor said he didn't have to accommodate religion," McGehee said. "That if he accommodated this religion, he would have to accommodate other religions."

Attorneys for the 16 workers add that performance and productivity were never affected because the production employees work in stations, not on production lines.

"Nothing happened, no hardship to them," said former worker Thomal Anhar. "No overtime, no manpower, (there was nothing that) would cause hardship to them."

The men say they were told that if they didn't like the decision, the company would find their replacements.

"That's why we decided we can't continue working here in this environment," said Anhar.

"One after another they handed in their badges and left," McGehee said. "And as they left, the production manager said there's no turning back."

The group acquired attorneys Beth Rivers and Cary McGehee, and then filed a complaint against the company. The group says they tried to negotiate to return to work, but Brose wasn't interested.

A spokesperson with Brose tells Fox 2 "The men chose to walk off the job rather than discuss accommodations that wouldn't impact production." 

They go on to say: "Brose does not intend to litigate this matter in the press, but does contend that the facts as stated in press release issued by the former workers' attorneys are incorrect.  Brose intends to vigorously defend any claims brought against the company."

But these attorneys and these men are standing by their allegations.

"In an effort to be reasonable these guys even said we'll take 20 minutes, we just need to break fast," said attorney Beth Rivers.

The men say they are not backing down.

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