US Homeland Security reverses turban ban on Sikh guard

In a statement, Sikh Coalition said the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to pay Raghbir Singh, an observant Sikh who wears a beard and turban in accordance with his religious beliefs, monetary damages for his wrongful termination in 2005.


"Holding the federal government accountable for discriminating against Sikhs sends a strong message to private employers. If the government includes Sikh-Americans in its workforce, it should encourage other employers to do the same," said Harsimran Kaur, legal director, Sikh Coalition.

"Beyond monetary recognition, we're pleased the government recognised the need to edit its policies to accommodate for religious differences," said Khari Tillery, who represented Singh along with the Sikh Coalition and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

 

"Singh's turban and beard did not affect his ability to perform his job duties and he was an exemplary employee," he argued.

Singh is a former contracted federal security guard who was fired from his Fresno post in 2005 when his supervisors reported that his beard and religious turban failed to comply with homeland security uniform.

In June 2007, Singh's lawyers filed a complaint in federal court asserting religious discrimination claims against the private security company that employed Singh and free exercise and Religious Freedom Restoration Act(RFRA) claims against several federal employees.

Claims with the private security firm were settled in 2008 for monetary damages, the statement said.

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