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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-15-04-2008-00.htm
Press Release: 15th Apr 2008, Tuesday, 2nd Vaisakh (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )
EEOC and UNITED SIKHS Collaborate to Educate Each Other on Employment Discrimination Issues
Houston, Texas, USA - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) visited Gurdwara Sikh Center of Houston on Sunday, April 6th, in their ongoing collaborative effort with UNITED SIKHS to educate the Sikh community about employment discrimination. In addition UNITED SIKHS directors also gave presentations at EEOC offices in Dallas and Houston on April 3rd and April 8th to educate the EEOC staff of employment discrimination faced by Sikhs.
Joe Bontke, EEOC Outreach Manager and Ombudsman for the Houston district office, addressed the Sikh congregation and informed them of the various types of discrimination that can occur, such as discrimination in hiring, dismissal, pay raises, and promotions. The presentation encouraged the Sikh community to report cases of employment discrimination, as well as informing the congregation of their rights.
Mr. Bontke presented a brief overview of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, outlining the various types of discrimination and what measures one can take against these kinds of discrimination. Attendees were specifically informed on how to report incidents to the EEOC, as the EEOC investigates and mediates cases of discrimination. Mr. Bontke highlighted religious discrimination focusing on the Sikh identity, urging the congregation to come forth and report any incidents.
In addition to the presentation, Mr. Bontke answered questions and addressed concerns of individual community members regarding workplace and employment discrimination. The EEOC distributed literature in both English and Punjabi that discussed issues such as what qualifies as discrimination, what to do if discrimination occurs, and how to file a claim.
|Mr. Bontke with Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee||Mr. Bontke with EEOC Intern Manpreet Kaur at Information Booth|
The EEOC visit to Gurdwara Sikh Center of Houston is a continuing joint effort with UNITED SIKHS to educate the Sikh community about workplace discrimination. Commenting on the collaboration, Bontke stated, "I'm glad to have had this opportunity to reach out and learn about the Sikh community, and I'm looking forward to working with UNITED SIKHS on Sikh discrimination issues in the workplace."
On April 8th, Harpreet Singh, Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS, addressed the EEOC Houston District Office to educate investigators, attorneys, and administrative judges on the Sikh faith. The presentation included post 9-11 issues and concerns the Sikh community has regarding hate and bias crimes, employment discrimination, and specifically religious discrimination based on the kirpan (a blade resembling a scimitar that is carried as an article of faith) and the dastaar, the Sikh turban. A similar presentation was made on April 3rd by Gurvinder Singh, Director of UNITED SIKHS, to the EEOCs Dallas District Office, addressing Sikh discrimination issues with staff attorneys, investigators, and Dallas EEOC Director Michael C. Fetzer.
"UNITED SIKHS would like to thank Joe Bontke and Michael Fetzer for setting up these opportunities to discuss the Sikh community's concerns with EEOC staff," remarked Harpreet Singh. "We look forward to working diligently with the EEOC to educate its staff about Sikh issues so they may better handle cases, as well as to educate the Sikh community about their employment rights."
|Harpreet Singh, Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS Addressing EEOC Staff||Investigator Belinda McAllister, Inderjit Kaur, Gurvinder Singh, & District Director Michael Fetzer|
UNITED SIKHS would also like to extend special thanks to Gurdwara Sikh Center of Houston, President Sampuran Singh, and Secretary Bhai Amar Singh, for their cooperation in organising this event.
You may read a previous press release on Sikh awareness projects assisted by UNITED SIKHS at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-12-02-2008-01.html
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