New York, NY (December 21, 2007) - Over the past four months, the Sikh Coalition has filed 32 separate complaints of discrimination with the TSA. A pro bono team of 9 attorneys coordinated by the Sikh Coalition's lead staff attorney are responsible for this major initiative to protect Sikh rights.
Filing Complaints to Document Discrimination
As part of an overall media, advocacy, and legal strategy to bring attention to Sikh concerns, in August 2007 the Coalition decided to file individual discrimination complaints with the TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Members of the United States Congress also asked the Coalition to file complaints. The purpose of filing the complaints was to:
- Compel the TSA investigate individual allegations of discriminatory searches; and
- Document for the historical record the disproportionate impact that the flawed headwear search policy had on Sikhs.
The Coalition assembled a team of skilled volunteer attorneys execute this large-scale project. This pro bono team includes attorneys Amandeep S. Sidhu, Hashim Rahman, Leena D. Mankad, Jassi S. Sachdev, Elissa J. Khurana, Nisha Singh, Jessica K. Rekhi, and Aamer S. Ahmed. The Sikh Coalition would like to sincerely thank these volunteer attorneys for their dedicated support in this matter. Our ability to file these complaints would certainly not be possible without their assistance.
During the course of the project, the volunteer attorney team helped investigate complaints and then draft complaints. The attorney team is also representing clients during TSA investigatory interviews. Thus far approximately half of the 32 complainant's TSA interviews have occurred. The Coalition will update the community on the status of these complaints as the TSA begins to respond. The TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has thus far been responsive in its investigation of complaints.
Many Sikhs responded to the Sikh Coalition's request to report their experiences at the airport, either good or bad. With the help of complaints and comments from the Sikh community, the Coalition submitted a report on the new security screening procedures to the TSA earlier this month.
Please continue to report your screening experiences, good or bad. It is important that the Sikh Coalition understands the situation on the ground so that we can make appropriate recommendations to the TSA. The Coalition remains committed to working on this issue and to ensure that the Sikh way of life is not compromised in any way.
Please print out our Sikh Air Traveler's Guide for more information about the TSA's new airport screening procedures for Sikh turbans.
We urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. If you or someone you know is a victim of discrimination, please report it to email@example.com.