The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won $240,000 in damages for two Muslim truck drivers after it sued their former employer for religious discrimination for firing the drivers for refusing to make beer deliveries.
The EEOC said that Star Transport Inc., a trucking company based in Morton, Ill., violated their religious rights by refusing to accommodate their objections to delivering alcoholic beverages.
"EEOC is proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices," EEOC General Counsel David Lopez announced Thursday. "This is fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance."
The case involved Star Transport's firing of drivers Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale, both of Somali heritage, in 2009 after they refused to make beer deliveries for the company, citing their adherence to Islamic law. For devout Muslims, consuming or even being in contact with any alcoholic beverage is prohibited.
The EEOC argued that the company could have easily reassigned the drivers but did not and sued it for religious discrimination. Star Transport admitted liability in March. The jury awarded Mohamed and Bulshale $20,000 each in compensatory damages and $100,000 each in punitive damages. The judge awarded each about $1,500 in back pay.
"This case makes me proud to be American," Bulshale said.