Please Be Involved, Click here and Join UNITED SIKHS

To receive forthcoming bulletins join our UNITED SIKHS Yahoo group

To donate go to www.unitedsikhs.org/donate

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 )

Press Release

EEOC and UNITED SIKHS Collaborate to Educate Each Other on Employment Discrimination Issues


  • 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.

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.

Joe Bontke Addressing the Sikh Center of Houston

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 StaffInvestigator 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

Issued by

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

Our Mission

To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.

UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.

UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.

Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.

We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.