It was just a few fibers of cotton that cost Alamo Rent-A-Car employee Bilan Nur her job. Observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Nur donned a traditional headscarf or Hijab, an act that allegedly violated the company's dress code requiring employees to have a "carefully cultivated image." When she refused to remove it, the company fired her.
The termination occurred just three months after September 11--raising concerns about backlash against Muslims in the U.S. The EEOC sued on Nur's behalf, calling the case a "post-9|11 backlash discrimination lawsuit." On May 26 the U.S. District Court in Arizona agreed with the EEOC and granted summary judgment against Alamo, finding that firing Nur was discriminatory as a matter of law. Although the number of religious discrimination suits filed with the EEOC has declined steadily since 2002, companies remain susceptible to claims if lower-level managers are unaware of the basics of the law.