(New York, New York) October 2, 2009 The Sikh Coalition is pleased to announce the hiring of its newest Staff Attorney, Sandeep "Amy" Kaur. She is a graduate of the Washington College of Law (WCL) at American University. Over the past several years, Amy has provided direct legal services to community-based organizations and clients, and has experience working on immigration, employment discrimination, housing, disability, and family law issues. While in law school, she was awarded a Public Interest/Public Service Scholarship, a three-year full tuition scholarship granted on the basis of academic excellence and dedication to public service.
Hiring Sandeep is primarily possible because of funding from the Sikh Spirit Foundation. The Sikh Coalition would like to thank The Sikh Spirit Foundation for its support of the Legal Program.
Legal Program Update - Fighting for Sikh Rights Coast to Coast
In 2009, the Sikh Coalition received 95 requests for legal assistance from Sikhs in need.
However, given our resource limitations, we have only been able to provide direct assistance in a fraction of these 95 cases.
We humbly request your help to continue our work to defend the right of Sikhs to practice our faith.
The following is a sample of the cases the Sikh Coalition is fighting for Sikhs around the country. This update provides insight so that the community might better understand the breadth and depth of our work
Metropolitan Transit Authority (New York)
The Sikh Coalition represents six Sikh employees of the New York MTA who are being discriminatorily subject to a policy requiring Sikh workers to brand their turbans with the MTA logo. The special logo rules are being enforced only against Sikhs and Muslims who wear religious headwear. The Sikhs' legal case has been consolidated in federal court with one filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The federal court is currently decidingwhether to grant an MTA motion for a decision without a trial.
Federal Kirpan Case (Texas)
The Sikh Coalition represents Kawaljeet Kaur, a Sikh woman who was fired after she began wearing a kirpan to her federal workplace. The Coalition filed suit in January of 2009 against the Internal Revenue Service (Ms. Tagore's employer), the Federal Protective Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. The case is being litigated in a federal court in Houston, TX. It is entering the discovery phase of litigation, in which both sides exchange information and documents.
Lexus (New Jersey)
The Sikh Coalition represents Gurpreet Singh, a Sikh who was told that he would not be hired for a sales position with a Lexus dealership in New Jersey unless he shaved his beard. In November of 2008, the Coalition filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The Coalition recently requested that the EEOC allow Mr. Kherha to proceed with filing a lawsuit in federal court.
In addition, within the past six months alone, the Sikh Coalition has assisted individual Sikhs with the following types of egregious discrimination:
- The Coalition helped a Sikh man in Pennsylvania who was told that he could not carry his kirpan into a hospital the night before he was scheduled for surgery.
- The Coalition is helping a Sikh middle school student in Texas who was subject to hostile questioning about his Sikh identity by school administrators and was harassed by a student who called him "rag fag," spit on him, and tore off his patka.
- The Coalition helped a Sikh high school student in New Jersey who was suspended after getting into a fight with a boy who tore off his patka.
The Sikh Coalition will continue to fight these cases in order to ensure that the Sikh way of life remains free. If anyone challenges your right to be Sikh, please report it here.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs the fearlessly practice their faith.