Alamo Hit with $287,000 Jury Award in Muslim Discrimination Case

June 7, 2007 ( - A federal court jury in Phoenix has hit Alamo Rent-A-Car with a $287,000 award after finding the car rental firm illegally fired a Somali customer sales representative for not taking off a head scarf during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Bilan Nur, said  in a news releasethat the jury award included$21,640 in back pay, $16,000 in compensatory damages, and $250,000 in punitive damages. The EEOC had alleged that Alamo’s action constituted religious discrimination generated by a backlash over the September 11 attacks.

According to the lawsuit, Alamo refused to permit Nur 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 Nur in December 2001, only eight days before Ramadan was over, and declared her ineligible for rehire.

The EEOC announcement said that U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver found the religious discrimination so clear cut, based on the legal papers filed in the case, that the question of whether Alamo had violated the law did not need to be resolved by a jury. In the subsequent trial, which began on May 29, the jury was only asked to decide the amount of monetary damages to which Nur was entitled (See Judge Decides Alamo Bosses Discriminated Against Muslim Employee ).