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EEOC awards Muslim truckers $240k after being fired for refusing to haul alcohol

A federal court has awarded two Somali-American Muslim truck drivers $240,000 after they were fired for refusing to transport alcohol, saying it violates their religious beliefs. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought a lawsuit on behalf of the truckers. The drivers, Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale, drove for trucking company Star Transport. Judge James E. Shadid found in favor of EEOC after Star Transport admitted liability in March 2015.

The trial was to determine compensatory and punitive damages and back pay. The jury awarded Mohamed and Bulshale $20,000 each in compensatory damages, and $100,000 each in punitive damages. Judge Shadid awarded each approximately $1,500 in back pay. EEOC alleged that Star Transport fired the drivers in 2009 after they were required to haul alcohol. Both men told the company they believed doing so would violate their religious beliefs under Islamic law. EEOC also alleged that Star Transport could have but failed to accommodate their religious beliefs.

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Bison Transport opened a new terminal in Ontario

On October 15, 2015 one of the biggest Canadian fleets Bison Transport held a grand opening for its new Mississauga terminal...

 

On October 15, 2015 one of the biggest Canadian fleets Bison Transport held a grand opening for its new Mississauga terminal. The Winnipeg-based company invested more than $25 million in a new state-of-the-art facility located near the Dixie/401 interchange. 19,000 square feet, staff and driver friendly facility equipped with fully loaded lounge: a kitchen, couches with a flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, a washer/dryer, and a gym open 24/7.

Bison Transport opened a new terminal in Ontario

We took a guided tour with Lionel Johnston, Bison's Corporate Marketing Manager.

"As you can see design of the premises is compiled in a "warehouse" style, so drivers could feel as comfortable as possible. We want our staff to work in a clean, professional, functional setting.

Because communication is a challenge to any company especially like us with a number of terminals in many different places we have a few boardrooms equipped with the latest videoconferencing technologies so people can communicate in a real time any time."

While touring the facility we asked Lionel how Bison Transport become a big achiever in safety it holds Truckload Career Association's National Fleet Safety Award.

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"It was a day 10-12 years ago when we come to the realization that to be a legal on the road, it didn't mean to be safe. It was a really big mind shift for the company. We started looking at how to provide the leadership, training, inspiration and incentives for our employees to be safer. We've built a Driver Development Centre in Winnipeg that cost the company over a million dollars. Bison was the first company in Canada who purchased the full scale Truck Driver Simulator. Once we started implementing strict safety rules, we've noticed that drivers' turnover was improving, number and cost of accidents was significantly reducing. Ever since then, we are constantly working on safety improvement. We have developed a Driver Finishing Program. Because of the safety standards and practices we've implemented over the years, we are able to take less experienced drivers and over the months get them to the point where their skill level becomes on a par with experienced drivers. This year over a hundred people went through Driver Finishing Program."

Then Lionel told us how the company management and staff work together to make Bison better and more efficient than it is today.

"Our main goal this year is to find $10 million in efficiencies. It doesn't mean that our staff should do twice as much work for the same pay It just means we have to be wiser, smarter and look for opportunities to save here and there or to do a bit more. All the different teams have their components of it. For instance, there is a designated specialist at each terminal that we'd like to work on trailer efficiency. They meet for 15 minutes every week as a team to discuss this specific issue. Or it might be a sales team and they are looking to improve the efficiency of sales calls Something like that.

Bison does offer profit sharing to all of our staff. Once the owner gets in returns what he has expected the rest is sharing between executive management and the staff. People realize if they save a dollar or bring a dollar that really makes a difference at the end of the day."

Rob Penner, president and COO of Bison said amongst other: "The company's old building which is just next door is now serving as Bison's new maintenance shop, which will increase Bison's ability to repair and maintain its equipment more efficiently, ultimately increasing earnings for our professional drivers. We have been preparing for aggressive growth and we are excited to fully capitalize on the current business conditions and provide more options for our customers."

The ribbon cutting ceremony was performed in an unusual "truckers' way" opening banner was ripped by two Bison trucks moving in the opposite directions.

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