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Chicago: A U.S. federal jury in Peoria, Illinois awarded $240,000 in damages and back pay to two former truck drivers , who were sacked in 2009 for refusing to deliver beer and other liquor products to employees citing restrictions in their religion which consider all alcohol products as 'haram'.
The Illinois jury was convened to determine damages after US District Court Judge James E. Shadid ruled in favor of Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdel Karim Hassan Bulshale when Star Transport admitted liability in March, according to local media reports.
The men, both of whom are Somali-American Muslims, were represented by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The trial started on Oct. 19, and the jury returned its verdict the next day after 45 minutes of deliberation.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must make accommodations for workers' religious beliefs unless doing so would impose "undue hardship" on the business.
The case was brought on their behalf by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces laws in the country prohibiting employment discrimination.
EEOC alleged 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.
The U.S. agency also alleged that Star Transport could have, but failed to accommodate the truckers' religious beliefs, as required under the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.
After the EEOC sent congratulatory messages to the two truck drivers.
“We are proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices,” EEOC said in a statement.
“It’s fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance", it added.