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Muslim drivers fired for refusing to deliver alcohol: EEOC

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a trucking firm for allegedly firing two Muslim drivers who refused to deliver alcohol because of their religious beliefs.

The EEOC said Wednesday it is charging Morton, Ill.-based Star Transport Inc. with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.

According to the EEOC, the trucking firm refused to accommodate the two unnamed employees and terminated them.

“Our investigation 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,” EEOC Chicago District Director John P. Rowe said in a statement.

“Everyone has a right to observe his or her religious beliefs, and employers don't get to pick and choose which religions and which religious practices they will accommodate,” John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney for the Chicago district office, said in the statement. “If an employer can reasonably accommodate an employee's religious practice without an undue hardship, then it must do so. That is a principle which has been memorialized in federal employment law for almost 50 years, and it is why EEOC is in this case.”

The agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the fired truck drivers, and an order barring future discrimination.

A company spokesman was unavailable for comment.