Fleet Management

$240,000 Awarded in Religious Discrimination Suit

October 23, 2015

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A federal court awarded $240,000 to two former drivers, Somalian-American Muslims whose religious beliefs were violated by an Illinois trucking company.

According to the Peoria Journal Star, Morton, Ill.-based Star Transport Inc. was sued in 2013 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The men, Mahad Abass Mohamed (formerly known as Mahad Aden) and Abdikarim Hassan Bulshale (formerly known as Abdikarim Ismail), had refused to deliver alcohol for the carrier, saying it was against their religious values as practicing Muslims. They were fired.

Failure to accommodate the religious beliefs of employees, when this can be done without undue hardship, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.

The EEOC said its investigation before filing the suit 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."

Judge James E. Shadid, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, found in favor 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 Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale $20,000 each in compensatory damages and $100,000 each in punitive damages. Judge Shadid awarded each approximately $1,500 in back pay.

“This is an awesome outcome. Star Transport failed to provide any discrimination training to its human resources personnel, which led to catastrophic results for these employees,” said one of the EEOC’s attorneys, June Calhoun, in a statement.

The Journal Star reported that in 2009, the personnel manager and the human resources manager at the carrier didn’t have any formalized training from Star on how to deal with civil and religious rights. One of the administrators hadn’t heard of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars such discrimination, according to the court file.

However, it is unclear whether the two men actually will receive any money, the paper notes. Star Transport went out of business earlier this year.

Comments

  1. 1. Lh [ October 24, 2015 @ 07:10PM ]

    Aret they planning an appeal? This is nonsense.

  2. 2. Lamar Carnes [ October 25, 2015 @ 05:52AM ]

    I do not believe for one moment the Constitution and Bill of Rights supports this courts decision. Why? Because in this case a person could put out of business the total liquor industry. One who is a Muslim for instance could go to work for a Beer Company and/or a Whiskey firm and would have to deal with this all over the map! You could not work for such a firm and not have to sell, deliver or deal with liquor directly. This is nonese, the Muslims or any other religious person SHOULD NOT work for a firm which does things they do not believe in!! The rights of the firms to perate a business is being put in danger now by silly stupiid jduges and courts! StOPT THIS Nonsense!! Stand up for true freedom and Constituitonal rights ---- Religious folks should NEVER work where requirements would conflict with their beliefs. That means if they Company requires uniforms you can't wear your Relgiouos garb in protest. That means if they require you to sell beer and that is their business, You can't work there and protest against such! Get another job! Get one that fits your views! The Government should stand by these basic rights of all people!!!!

  3. 3. Steve [ October 25, 2015 @ 07:52AM ]

    How is this different than the couple that refused to bake a cake for a gay couple because of religious belief? Government forcing them to do it or go out of business. Seems like a double standard

  4. 4. Steve [ October 25, 2015 @ 07:54AM ]

    Double standard anyone remember the bakers refusing to make a cake for the gay couple

  5. 5. Asif Kidwai [ October 25, 2015 @ 05:22PM ]

    Lamar was this trucking company only transporting alcohol on 100% of all of its routes?

    Answer: No.

    Your augment only holds water if the vast majority of of the trucking routes involved transporting alcohol.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but "Star Transport" does not sound like a beer or liquor brand I've ever heard of, but then again I don't drink alcohol.

    If a saw "Star Transport" on the side of a truck I would have no idea what cargo it was carrying. But Budwiser on a truck, no problem anyone can guess the contents of the truck. Even superman with kryptonite around his neck would guess correct without his X-ray vision.

  6. 6. BarbRRB [ October 26, 2015 @ 06:02AM ]

    This world has gone to hell. If the person cannot do his job at 100%, then they will let you go. Why did this muslim take the job anyway knowing alcohol was cargo they hauled? Just knowing at one point he could get some quick cash I guess. The court system MUST stop this.

    *Lamar, you are correct. Think about a beer/whisky hualers...... Muslim fills out application.. Not hired because his religion will not allow him to haul beer/whisky. Another lawsuit in the works.... American needs to get their head out of the clouds and this politically correct .. MUST go.

  7. 7. Don [ October 26, 2015 @ 07:14AM ]

    I'd have to agree with Asif, if these drivers informed the carrier of their beliefs when hired, which according to what I've read they did, then they shouldn't have lost their jobs. I doubt anyone with such strongly held beliefs would go work for a alcohol company in any capacity, I know I wouldn't, so the argument made by Lamar wouldn't hold water as the courts would see that they weren't sincerely held beliefs. I'd have to believe that these men wouldn't know every type of item that the carrier might be called on to haul so when informed of their beliefs the carrier should have made the reasonable accommodation. These typed of accommodations are also made for those injured on the job or with disabilities.

  8. 8. Brad [ October 26, 2015 @ 09:14AM ]

    This doesn't surprise me it's in Obama's home state of Illinois. If they were Christian they wouldn't have won.

  9. 9. Wade Haught [ October 26, 2015 @ 12:30PM ]

    Do Americans have a fiduciary duty to perform services that takes precedence over their religious convictions? Do companies have a fiduciary duty to their customers that takes precedence over their employee's religious convictions? Do consumers have a fiduciary duty to respect their fellow citizen's religious convictions that takes precedence over their demands for service?

  10. 10. g luetge [ October 26, 2015 @ 05:46PM ]

    let's see. a company fires employees for failing to do their job. They claim doing their job violates their muslim beliefs. Judge awards them money. Meanwhile, a christian couple is sued for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple wedding because it violates their religious beliefs. Judge orders them to bake the cake and fines them. Something is very wrong here!

  11. 11. Matt [ October 27, 2015 @ 02:50PM ]

    So if a Muslim and I get a job at Wal-Mart, a grocery store, or a gas station and their supervisor asks them to load a cooler with beer or stock a liquor shelf with alcohol then they can refuse based on their religious beliefs? Ridiculous. These drivers weren’t asked to consume alcohol, just transport it. What is the difference between transporting alcohol across the country versus from a supply room to a shelf? I’ve never had trouble buying beer from a Muslim owned convenience store. I’m sure they will move on to the next trucking company and try to pull something similar.

  12. 12. Mark Phelps [ October 29, 2015 @ 05:07AM ]

    Well work is against my Religion so I am going to file a lawsuit if they ask me to work.

  13. 13. MC [ October 29, 2015 @ 02:45PM ]

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was against a Muslim's religion to DRINK alcohol, not transport it. If I am correct, then this was a poor ruling. If I am incorrect, then the company is in the wrong.

    @Steve, Your point is a slippery slope, but not a double-standard, IMO. It is wrong to force someone to do something against their religion, But there is nothing in the Bible that says you can't serve a gay person. That's just trying to use religion to justify bigotry. The Bible teaches to love thy neighbor, but most Christians seem to have forgotten that.

 

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