Motion Denied: Turban Branding Rejected by Federal Judge
(New York, New York) October 6, 2010 - In a week of major legal momentum (see Victory One, Victory Two), a federal judge last week rejected a motion requesting legal sanction for the branding of Sikh turbans with the Metropolitan Transit Authority logo.
At issue in the case is whether the New York City Transit Authority (TA) can force Sikh and Muslim workers to brand their religious headdress with its logo. The TA cites security concerns post 9/11 as the reason for the policy.
In March 2005, the United States Justice Department released results from an investigation that found over 200 instances of TA employees wearing headdress without a TA logo over the course of three days. This included TA-issued Russian-style winter hats without a logo.
The TA nevertheless insists that it must place its logo on Sikh turbans and Muslim hijabs so that they are identifiable as TA workers. The TA makes this assertion despite the fact that Sikh and Muslim workers worked for the TA successfully for decades before 9/11 without branding their headdress.
Last week, in a 41 page opinion in the United States' case against the Transit Authority, Judge Sandra Townes of the United State District Court for the Eastern District of New York, rejected the Transit Authority's motion to rule in its favor without trial.
Judge Townes essentially rejected the TA's attempt to end the discrimination suit. Her ruling means that the United States' case against the Transit Authority may proceed to trial.
The Sikh Coalition, in partnership with its co-counsel at theCenter for Constitutional Rights and the Law Offices of Bhalla & Cho will continue to support the individual Sikh clients' claims in federal court till the very end.
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