Houston, TX; Washington, D.C., USA: – UNITED SIKHS representatives gave presentations at two seminars organized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for investigators and employers to promote Sikh awareness and to highlight examples of employment discrimination against Sikhs. The seminars were next in a long chain of efforts that UNITED SIKHS has been undertaking to prevent employment discrimination against Sikhs through a continued partnership with the EEOC.
First Event: August 25, 2009, Houston, Texas
Gurvinder Singh, Director, UNITED SIKHS, conducted a workshop on Religious Discrimination and Accommodations during a Technical Assistance Seminar (TAS) organized by the EEOC. The event was attended by over 200 Human Resource Managers from companies all over Texas. Mr. Singh spoke to the attendees about who Sikhs are and about Sikh kakaar, the five articles of faith that Sikhs are required to carry at all times. He also discussed a variety of discrimination cases that have arisen in the workplace for Sikhs, primarily around the dastaar (Sikh turban) and kakaar, and including discrimination in hiring, dismissal, pay raises, and promotions. Commenting on the effort, Gurvinder Singh stated, “UNITED SIKHS knows that it is pertinent to have a constant and active partnership with the EEOC, so workplace discrimination against Sikhs can be effectively tackled and employers educated on Sikhism.”
UNITED SIKHS and EEOC Texas Regional Representatives
The workshop also touched upon the accommodations that employers need to make to their policies in order to not infringe upon an employee’s right to freely practice religion. Companies that attended the seminar, many of which have over 500 employees, approached UNITED SIKHS to directly conduct awareness seminars for their employees.
Gurvinder Singh Addressing Questions Raised by Participants
Second Event: August 27, 2009, Washington, D.C.
UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, Harpreet Singh, spoke at the EEOC National Headquarters addressing more than ninety EEOC investigators. The talk covered information about Sikhs, and discussed actual reported cases of employment discrimination against Sikhs. Mr. Singh also discussed how the EEOC and UNITED SIKHS can work together to end religious discrimination against Sikhs in the workplace, and also gave specific pointers in handling cases that arise. Harpreet Singh commented, “EEOC investigators are the backbone of the system to ensure fair and just employment for all. It is highly important that they be aware of the problems Sikh employees face in the workplace so that a healthy work environment can be ensured.”
Harpreet Singh, Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS with Laura Hinton, National Outreach Coordinator and EEOC Staff
The presentation was coupled with a question and answer session to address the concerns and views of the participating EEOC investigators. Commenting on the presentation, Laura Hinton, National Outreach Coordinator for the EEOC stated, “As the agency responsible for enforcing the statutes prohibiting employment discrimination, we wanted to ensure that all of our new hires were aware of the issues of discrimination confronting Sikh applicants and employees in the workplace. Your presentation certainly helped us meet that goal.”
UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to fearlessly exercise their freedom of religion, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.
To read a previous press release on another collaborative effort between UNITED SIKHS and EEOC please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-06-08-2009-00.htm, http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-15-04-2008-00.htm, http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-07-05-2008-00.htm, and http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-23-01-2009-00.htm