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Primary Press Contact: Mark Reading-Smith
Media & Communications Director, the Sikh Coalition
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 202-380-8489

Secondary Press Contact: Jagmeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition
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Discrimination Settlement Reached with U.S. Trucking Giant

November 15, 2016 (Los Angeles, California) – After a seven-year federal investigation, four Sikh truck drivers reached a settlement agreement with American trucking giant J.B. Hunt, after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found evidence that the company had discriminated against them due to their religious articles of faith.

J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay $260,000 in damages, and has agreed to amend company policies and practices to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws. While the economic damages alleviate some of the losses incurred by the four California Sikh clients, the broader policy changes will positively impact Sikhs and other employees who may face discrimination in the company’s workplace. For example, the company will be obligated to train its hiring personnel on anti-discrimination law and submit reports to the EEOC for the next two years about its workplace anti-discrimination efforts.

Sikhs, who have been an integral piece of California’s economy for over 125 years, are religiously mandated to maintain articles of faith, including unshorn hair and turbans. An estimated 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States and about half of the population lives in California.

“I am relieved by this resolution because no one should have to face humiliation because of their religious beliefs,” said the lead complainant, Jagtar Singh Anandpuri. “I have been driving a truck for years, and I know there is nothing about my faith that interferes with my ability to do my job.”

Three clients were denied accommodations after they informed the company that they could not cut their religiously mandated hair for drug testing. The fourth client was denied an accommodation to the company’s demand that he remove his turban while providing a urine sample. In each case, J.B. Hunt automatically denied employment, despite the client’s otherwise impeccable job qualifications.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which imposes safety standards and regulations on the commercial trucking industry, does not require hair sample tests for employment. Nonetheless, alternative forms of drug testing are available, including nail sample tests.

“Our clients repeatedly asked for alternatives within the drug testing regimes that would allow them to follow their religious tenets, and those requests were denied. Thankfully J.B. Hunt has finally switched gears and moved into the right lane to comply with federal anti-discrimination law,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur.

The Sikh Coalition has represented the clients in this case since 2008 with the Stanford Law School Religious Liberty Clinic joining as co-counsel in 2013.

"Employers have a legal and moral duty to honor the religious identity and expression of their workers," said the Stanford clinic's director, James A. Sonne. "This settlement encourages Sikh Americans everywhere, including at J.B. Hunt, that they can maintain their articles of faith without sacrificing their livelihood - as is their right."

The Sikh Coalition is the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States and has represented several Sikh clients in high profile religious discrimination cases for nearly 15 years. For more information on this case or to interview one our legal experts involved in this lawsuit, please contact Mark Reading-Smith or Jagmeet Singh.

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About the Sikh Coalition

The Sikh Coalition is a community-based organization that works towards the realization of civil and human rights for all people. In particular, we work towards a world where Sikhs may freely practice and enjoy their faith while fostering strong relations with their local community wherever they may be.

We pursue our mission by:

  • Providing direct legal services to persons whose civil or human rights are violated;
  • Advocating for law and policies that are respectful of fundamental rights;
  • Promoting appreciation for diversity through education; and
  • Fostering civic engagement in order to promote local community empowerment

With a full-time staff of 12 and offices in New York City, Fremont, CA and Washington D.C., we are the most-staffed Sikh organization in the history of the United States.

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