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Jury awards damages in post-9/11 backlash case


PHOENIX--A Phoenix jury has awarded more than $287,000 to a Muslim woman who was fired by Alamo Rent a Car L.L.C. after she insisted on wearing a head scarf during the Ramadan holiday, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the post-9/11 lawsuit charging religious discrimination on her behalf.

Alamo will pay $21,640 in back pay, $16,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages to Bilan Nur, based on the jury's award, which was issued June 1.

Ms. Nur, a Somalia native who immigrated to the United States in 1998, was terminated by Alamo in December 2001 after she refused to remove her scarf while working in Alamo's Phoenix office. She was told she could wear the scarf while she was in the back office but had to remove it when she went to the rental counter in front of the office, according to court records.

Last year, a federal judge ruled in Equal Opportunity Commission vs. Alamo Rent a Car L.L.C. that this was not a reasonable accommodation and disagreed with Alamo that accommodating Ms. Nur would have posed an undue hardship.

The case was the first of several post-9/11 backlash cases filed by the EEOC.

Tulsa, Okla.-based Alamo is now a subsidiary of Vanguard Car Rental U.S.A. Inc. A company spokesman had no comment.