$287,000 awarded in Ramadan scarf suit

A federal jury has ordered Alamo Rent A Car to pay a Muslim woman $287,640 for firing her because she refused to remove a head scarf she was wearing during the holy month of Ramadan. The firing of Bilan Nur, then 22, came just four months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the company for what it termed a “post 9/11 backlash,” alleging that Nur was fired because of her religious beliefs in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

U.S. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver ruled last year that the government had proven religious discrimination and Alamo had shown no proof that it had taken reasonable steps to allow Nur to follow her beliefs before firing her. That left the jury in the trial that ended Friday with only the question of how much damages to award, said Mary Jo O’Neill, the regional attorney for the EEOC. The jury in the three-day trial awarded Nur $21,640 in back wages, $16,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Associated Press, 3 June 2007