UNITED SIKHSWinner of the Sikhs and Charities Award
July 18, 2011
3rd Saavan (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
Community Update
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Sikhs in the Workplace: UNITED SIKHS Works with Individuals and Government Agencies to Protect the Rights of Sikhs Against Employment Discrimination
  • UNITED SIKHS has partnered with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to provide Panjabi and Hindi translations of EEOC materials so that the Sikh community can be better informed about their rights in the workplace.
  • UNITED SIKHS has been working across the nation to assist Sikh employees who believe they have been discriminated against in filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state administrative bodies.
  • If you feel you have been discriminated against and have questions about what to do about it, please contact law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.
  • Please Be Involved, Click here to get started!; To receive forthcoming bulletins join our UNITED SIKHS Yahoo group; To donate go to www.unitedsikhs.org/donate.

New York, NY:  In 1964, the passage of the Civil Rights Act ushered in a new era in the United States -an era in which the federal government would begin to take positive steps towards protecting minority rights by making racial and other forms of discrimination illegal.

The Civil Rights Act provides protection against discrimination in the work place. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In order to implement this law the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created (to read more about other federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the work place click here).  The EEOC provides a complaint process through which individuals can file federal complaints if they feel they have been discriminated against (to learn more about the complaint process click here, if you are a federal employee, click here).

Although great progress has been made, employment discrimination remains a significant problem for many minority communities, including Sikhs. Recently, the UNITED SIKHS legal team has assisted several individuals who have faced employment discrimination and helped these individuals file complaints at both the state and federal administrative level.

  • Security Firm in California
    • In California, two security guards, the only Sikhs at their work site, were without warning told not to return to the work site -under circumstances which led them to believe that they were discriminated against on the basis of their religious identity.
    • UNITED SIKHS assisted them in filing complaints at the state level (which in California is through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) and the federal level (through the EEOC). Currently their cases are being investigated.
  • Fast Food Chain in California
    • An employee at a fast food restaurant was told they must remove their turban in order to work there. Through advocacy and dialogue with the employers, the UNITED SIKHS legal team and a sevadaar in California (Manpreet Singh) were able to reach an agreement in which the employee would continue to be allowed to work at that location without sacrificing her religious identity by being forced to remove her turban.
  • JFK Airport in New York
    • In New York, a federal employee was told that in order to remain employed, he must remove his kara. UNITED SIKHS filed a complaint with the EEOC and is currently working on resolving this case, which has completed the investigatory phase.

Sikhs are particularly at risk of being discriminated against in the work place because of the articles of faith that are fundamental tenets of the practice of Sikhism. UNITED SIKHS works tirelessly to negotiate policies of religious accommodation for Sikh articles of faith in work places, public facilities, schools, universities, and testing centers (for information about our most recent religious accommodations victory, click here). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides an invaluable tool for redress if you have been discriminated against, and laws like the End Racial Profiling Act seek to end the types of institutional intolerance that contributes to employment discrimination.

What we are doing: In addition to case work, UNITED SIKHS works at the policy level to protect your rights. We have provided Panjabi and Hindi translations to the EEOC for their Know Your Rights Pamphlets (to view the Panjabi translation click here, for the Hindi translation, click here), so that more members of the Sikh community can learn about what to do if they feel discriminated against at the work place.

The UNITED SIKHS legal team has presented the issue of employment discrimination against Sikhs at government interagency meetings in Washington, DC and also addressed this issue in one on one meetings with Congressional offices. Most recently, UNITED SIKHS hosted the Sikh Summit and employment discrimination was one of the main issues discussed with over 30 Representatives (from the House and Senate) & their staffers (for more information about the Sikh Summit, click here).

But what can you do? Raise your voice! Educate others about Sikhism. Educate yourself about your rights & responsibilities as an employee or employer. UNITED SIKHS is continuing to work with lawmakers and like-minded organizations to combat employment discrimination  throughout the nation. Want to learn more and get involved? Contact us by clicking here! Donate to our ongoing work by clicking here!

What can YOU do?
  • Know your rights and raise your voice! To view the EEOC's pamphlets on employment discrimination in English click here, Panjabi click here, or Hindi click here.
  • If you feel that you have been discriminated at the work place or in the hiring process because of your religious identity, do not stay silent. Contact the EEOC by clicking here and e-mail UNITED SIKHS legal team at law-usa@unitedsikhs.org
  • Participate in education and awareness efforts about Sikhs and Sikhism. For ideas, tools, and more information on how to get involved, contact us at: law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Support advocacy work to put an end to discriminationagainst Sikhs at the workplace.Volunteer with UNITED SIKHS, and Donate to our civil rights advocacy projects.

Issued by:
Ilana Ofgang
Legal Fellow

  • Do you know what to do if you are discriminated against in the workplace?
  • For answers, click here.
  • To view the information in PANJABI, click here. To view the information in HINDI click here.
  • Please contact 1-888-243-1690 or email unitedsikhs-usa@unitedsikhs.org to request these cards by mail.
  • UNITED SIKHS needs YOU to help fight injustice : Volunteer & Donate to UNITED SIKHS today and make a difference.

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Protect Our Identity (POI) is an ongoing international campaign launched by UNITED SIKHS in August 2010 . It focuses on the need to protect the Sikh community's right to express its religious identity.  Initiatives under the POI campaign include:
  • Right to Turban
  • Airport Security in European Union and United States
  • Anti-Bullying Initiatives
  • Rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan
  • Equality in Employment
  • Right to Kakaars
  • Recognition of Sikhs as a Religion and Ethnicity in UK and US Census, and Raising Awareness of Sikhs and Sikhism to reduce acts of violence and xenophobia against Sikhs.
UNITED SIKHS is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to spread the message of the campaign within their own communities. To join or contribute to the campaign, volunteer or donate to UNITED SIKHS.
Contact Us

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the UNITED SIKHS, which will provide immediate relief and support to those in need. You may donate online at www.unitedsikhs.org/donate  or send your donations to a UNITED SIKHS office nearest to you, whose details can be found at http://unitedsikhs.org/contact.php .

Ordinarily only 10 percent of your donation is spent on admin costs.


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.