A Muslim man claims he was fired by a trucking company after refusing to transport a load of alcohol, according to a civil-rights lawsuit filed recently in federal court.
Vasant Reddy, 35, of Northeast Philadelphia, said it's against his religious beliefs to "consume, possess or transport alcohol or tobacco," according to the suit.
He claims he told this to his supervisors at the Philadelphia branch of Schneider National Inc. when he was hired in May 2009. They told him they could accommodate his beliefs, but the next month he was assigned to transport a delivery of Miller Lite, said Reddy's attorney, Justin Swidler.
When he complained, Reddy's supervisor told him that his refusal to transport the beer was an "operational violation" and that he would be fired, the suit said.
Reddy said he was assigned another nonalcoholic load that he transported successfully and that another driver moved the Miller Lite shipment, according to court documents.
Two days later, though, Reddy was given a choice: Resign or be fired, Swidler said.
"There is no dispute that he was fired for denying to transport alcohol," Swidler said. "They fired him because they felt like it was an insubordination for him to request such a thing."
A spokeswoman for Schneider National Inc., headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., did not return calls for comment.
Swidler claims that fewer than 5 percent of Schneider's transports contain alcohol and, therefore, accommodating Reddy's religious beliefs wouldn't have been difficult for the company.
"The law is clear that if it creates an undue hardship, you don't have to accommodate someone," Swidler said. "Clearly, a bar doesn't have to hire someone who is Muslim, but it's different if it's only 1, 3 or 5 percent of your business."