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Muslim Truck Drivers Fired for Refusing to Ship Alcohol, Awarded $240,000 by Jury
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Summary: Two Muslim truck drivers, who were fired for refusing to transport alcohol, were awarded $240,000 from a jury on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, two Muslim truck drivers were awarded $240,000 by the federal jury in their discrimination case against their former employer, Star Transport. The drivers were fired for refusing to ship alcohol, and they received $40,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages, according to The Washington Post.

  
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The case was brought on by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Illinois after the plaintiffs complained of discrimination that occurred in 2009. The men told Star Transport that shipping alcohol violated Islamic law and were subsequently fired.

“Everyone has a right to observe his or her religious beliefs, and employers don’t get to pick and choose which religions and which religious practices they will accommodate,” John Hendrickson, the EEOC Regional Attorney for the Chicago District Office said in a statement in 2013. “If an employer can reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practice without an undue hardship, then it must do so.”

The trial started on October 19th of this year, and the jury returned with a verdict the next day, according to the EEOC press release.

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American law requires employers to excuse employees from tasks that are against their religion. The concept of religious freedom in the workplace has been brought up recently in the high profile case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses which became legal across the country. While proponents for gay marriage condemned her, her legal counsel argued that she had the right to stand by her religious beliefs.

In both cases, whether or not people agree, the law’s the law.



The EEOC claimed that the Star Transport Company had failed to provide “reasonable accommodations” to the employees, Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale. Star Transport admitted that they could have accommodated the drivers’ request not to ship the alcohol but did not do so. They also tried unsuccessfully to argue that they weren’t liable for punitive damages.

“Our investigation revealed that Star could have readily avoided assigning these employees to alcohol delivery without any undue hardship, but chose to force the issue despite the employees’ Islamic religion,” EEOC District Director John P. Rowe said.

The Peoria Journal Star’s Andy Kravetz pointed out that the two plaintiffs may have won the lawsuit but may never collect because Morton, Illinois-based Star Transport went out of business earlier this year.



 

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