TSA Admits Discrimination Against Sikh Employee; Pays $30,000

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New York – Another victory for the followers of the Sikh religion in the United States as a Sikh employee of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was awarded a significant victory in a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) according to the International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD).

IAT-TSA Notice of Discrimination_1
The ICAAD said that the discrimination started in 2010, when Kulwinder Singh, an airport security agent at JFK Airport, was instructed by his supervisors to remove or conceal his Kara (a religious article worn around the wrist by members of the Sikh faith) while he was on duty, or else he would be found to be in violation of TSA’s dress policy and face professional sanctions.

The International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD) and a major international law firm jointly represented Kulwinder on a pro bono basis in a Title VII action filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

After the case was settled on March 22, 2012, ICAAD Director of Legal Programs Hansdeep Singh said, “We are pleased with the favorable outcome for our client in this case and proud of ICAAD’s role in upholding our First Amendment freedoms.”

“TSA’s practice in this case represents the type of structural discrimination that lies at the heart of ICAAD’s mission,” added Hansdeep Singh.

According to ICAAD statement, the parties agreed to settle the case on the following terms:
(i) A judgment will be entered in favor of Kulwinder and against the TSA, in the amount of $30,000;
(ii) the TSA will provide training to its managers at JFK Airport on laws prohibiting religious discrimination and on the Sikh faith;
iii) Kulwinder will be permitted to wear his kara unencumbered while on duty; and the TSA will post a Notice of Finding of Discrimination (See picture of the actual notice of discrimination posted at TSA JFK airport) admitting it violated Kulwinder’s Title VII rights and publicizing the settlement terms. The Notice will remain posted till June 12, 2012.

“Sikhs accept and cherish five articles of faith, which they consider to be gifts from their Guru,” ICAAD Associate Advisor Simran Jeet Singh said, adding, “The Kara, a steel or iron band worn on the wrist, serves as one of the five articles of faith that form the Sikh identity.”

ICAAD in its statement noted that structural discrimination is one of the most subtle and dangerous forms of discrimination, because it is concealed by laws that reflect the majority’s sentiments to the detriment of minority communities (e.g. neutral laws of general applicability). Furthermore, when the government is responsible for discrimination, it signals to the rest of society that mistreatment of specific groups is permissible. (IATNS)

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