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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-04-07-2008-00.htm

Press Release: 4th July 2008, Friday,       20th Harh (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )

Press Release

UNITED SIKHS Applauds EEOC For Taking
Discrimination Against Sikhs in the Workplace Seriously

 

  • UNITED SIKHS is working on over a dozen cases with the EEOC to combat employment discrimination at the workplace.
  • Workplace discrimination is increasing against Sikhs. Do not hesitate to report your discriminatory experience.
  • If you are experiencing discrimination at your workplace, Contact UNITED SIKHS immediately to report your incident by telephone at 1-888-243-1690.

Dallas, Texas, USA – UNITED SIKHS applauds the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency whose mandate is to end discrimination in the workplace, for filing a suit against a Texas company that refused to hire a Sikh because of his appearance. The EEOC took up Sukhdev Singh Brar's case after UNITED SIKHS referred it to them in December 2007, after all attempts to seek redress with the employer, Champion National Security in Richardson, Texas, failed.

Sukhdev Singh, a certified security officer with over six years work experience, applied for a job at the Champion National Security Firm in Richardson, Texas in October 2005. During his job interview, he was told that he was going to be hired, but that he would be required to shave his beard and remove his turban to fit a “quasi-military appearance.” Sukhdev Singh informed the interviewer that it was against his religion to cut his hair and that it was a religious requirement to wear the turban, to which the interviewer responded that it was company policy which could not be changed. With UNITED SIKHS' assistance, Sukhdev Singh initially filed complaints with both the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), at which time the EEOC initiated an investigation.

The EEOC is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the security company after numerous consultations with UNITED SIKHS to understand the importance of kesh (unshorn hair) covered by a dastaar (Sikh turban) as one of the five articles of faith Sikhs are required to wear, and the sensitivity of religious freedom and the articles of faith for the Sikh community. EEOC offices across the country have been receiving training from UNITED SIKHS in regard to the Sikh religion and the importance of the kesh covered by a dastaar (turban), and the other four kakaars (articles of faith). Communications between the EEOC and the Sikh community have been vital in getting the EEOC to take this case to the level it has reached. Awareness events taking place in various gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) around the nation have been particularly successful because people have actually reported incidents during the events, and the national EEOC office has recognized that Sikhs are at a great risk of being discriminated against in the workplace. UNITED SIKHS urges the Sikh community to continue to report incidents of discrimination of any kind, so that appropriate actions can be taken.

*Photo courtesy CBS

"I am pleased that UNITED SIKHS fights for the rights of the minorities, such as the Sikh community." - Sukhdev Singh

UNITED SIKHS Director, Gurvinder Singh, who assisted Sukhdev Singh with the case from the initial filing until now stated, “I am privileged to be involved in such an important case that can hopefully set a strong precedent and will assist future generations to come.” Gurvinder held a training session for the staff of the Dallas District Office of the EEOC in April, where EEOC Dallas Director Michael Fetzer acknowledged that strong action should be taken in cases like Sukhdev Singh's.

Commenting recently on the severity of the discrimination faced by Sukhdev Singh, senior attorney Bill Backhaus of the EEOC stated that the company was “demanding someone give up their deeply held religious beliefs for a job. In that regard, I think it's very egregious.” Harpreet Singh, Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS, stated “We are encouraged by the EEOC taking swift action in this case, and hope they will continue to take aggressive steps to cure this issue with the Sikh community. We want Sikhs to look at Sukhdev Singh as an example and come forward to report issues at their workplace. No American should have to sacrifice their religious beliefs or any freedom to earn a living.” UNITED SIKHS is continuing to assist Sukhdev Singh with his case, and is collaborating with the EEOC to assist many others around the country to fight employment discrimination.

UNITED SIKHS urges the Sikh community or any minority to continue to report incidents of discrimination of any kind, so that appropriate actions can be taken, by calling 1-888-243-1690 or emailing law@unitedsikhs.org

You may read a previous press release on UNITED SIKHS collaboration with the EEOC at:
http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-15-04-2008-00.htm and http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-07-05-2008-00.htm

Issued by:
Baljit Kaur
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
UNITED SIKHS
Email: law@unitedsikhs.org
1-(646) 315-3909


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