Chicago, Oct 28: Two Muslim truck drivers have been awarded a whopping USD 240,000 in damages by a US jury in a religious discrimination lawsuit after they were fired for refusing to make beer deliveries.
A jury was convened to determine damages after US District Court Judge James E Shadid ruled in favour of Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale when Star Transport admitted liability earlier this year.
The men, both of whom are Somali-American Muslims, were represented by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won the case on behalf of the Obama administration.
The federal jury in Peoria, Illinois, awarded USD 240,000 to the two Somalian-American Muslims who were fired from their jobs as truck drivers at Star Transport when they refused to transport alcohol because it violated their religious beliefs, according to the EEOC.
The trial started on October 19 and the jury returned its verdict the next day after 45 minutes of deliberation. Judge Shadid, the chief judge of the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois, ruled in favour of EEOC after Star Transport admitted liability in March 2015.
The resulting trial was to determine compensatory and punitive damages and back pay. The jury awarded Mohamed and Bulshale USD 20,000 each in compensatory damages and USD 100,000 each in punitive damages. Judge Shadid awarded each approximately USD 1,500 in back pay.
EEOC alleged that in 2009, Star Transport fired Mohamed and Bulshale after they were required to transport alcohol. Both men told Star Transport that they believed doing so would violate their religious beliefs under Islamic law. EEOC also alleged that Star Transport could have but failed to accommodate the truckers' religious beliefs.
"EEOC is proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "This is fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance."