$287,640 JURY AWARD TO FIRED MUSLIM WOMAN FOR RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

by Patricia A. Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

A Phoenix jury awarded more than $287,000 to a Muslim woman who claimed that Alamo Car Rental fired her in December 2001 for refusing to remove her head scarf during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The EEOC filed the lawsuit against the company in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona alleging Alamo had committed post-9/11 backlash discrimination.

The fired worker was a customer sales representative. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Alamo refused to permit her to continue to cover her head, as she had done in previous years, even if she wore an approved Alamo-logo scarf. The jury also heard evidence that, although wearing a head scarf did not violate the company’s dress policy, Alamo fired the woman only eight days before Ramadan was over, and declared her ineligible for rehire.

The company will pay $21,640 in back pay, $16,000 in compensatory damages, and $250,000 in punitive damages.

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