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US government sues company for discrimination against Sikh

Source: PTI
July 02, 2008 12:03 IST
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A Texas company has been sued for religious discrimination by the United States government after it did not hire a Sikh who refused to shave his beard and take off his turban. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking punitive damages for Sukhdev Singh Brar, a certified security officer in the Dallas area, apart from back pay and compensation for pain and suffering caused to him.

Brar had applied for a job at the Champion National Security Firm in Richardson in October 2005. "When I finished applying, she (company representative) called me for an interview, and told me, 'I'm going to hire you, but you have to shave and take off your turban,'" he was quoted as saying by CBS.

Brar says he told the representative what she was saying was against federal law and his religion. "I cannot cut my hair. I cannot take off my turban," he said. "She told me, 'This is our company policy and we cannot change our company policy.'" The government wants the court to order the company to change its hiring practises.

"Essentially, they're asking, demanding someone give up their deeply held religious beliefs for a job. In that regard, I think it's very egregious," said Bill Backhaus, EEOC. Before the EEOC filed the lawsuit against Champion National Security, it tried to resolve the case. But the government said the company wouldn't budge.

A company attorney said they haven't seen the lawsuit yet. But he says they don't discriminate, and have a good track record of hiring a diverse workforce. Since the 9/11 terror attacks, the government says there have been more than 1,000 cases involving people from the Mid-East or South Asia, the CBS reported.

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