Our Mission & Values

Through the community, courtroom, classroom and halls of Congress, we work to protect the constitutional right to practice your faith without fear. We strive to do this with integrity, selflessness and with the belief that our shared work holds a greater purpose.

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Our History

We were founded as a volunteer organization in response to 9/11 as hate violence swept the country. The first deadly hate crime in the aftermath happened to a Sikh American, Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was killed outside his gas station in Mesa, Arizona. We were formed in a moment emergency.

We spent our early days desperately trying to give the Sikh community a voice while learning on the job about how to professionally advocate for our rights. We banged on congressional office doors, chased down legal services to support Sikhs in crisis and worked primarily at night and over weekends because there was no financial support for our work yet.

For the first three years, we remained a volunteer organization with a core group of fifteen (mostly young) Sikhs who devoted anywhere from 10-30 hours per week to protecting the community. In September, 2003, we hired our first staff member, our Legal Director.

We launched the first national Sikh voter registration drive to increase Sikh civic engagement and we started to work on high impact cases that involved the New York Police Department, New York Metro Transit Authority and a school that tried to deny a Sikh boy the right to wear his turban on graduation.

We filed our first high-impact discrimination lawsuit against the New York Metro Transit Authority charging that a post-9/11 policy requiring Sikhs to brand their turbans with an MTA logo amounts to religious discrimination. We eventually won this case, along with many others to follow.

By our fifth anniversary, we had conducted Sikh Awareness trainings for over 5,500 government officials, police officers, teachers, and human resource professionals. We drafted better regulations that protected Sikh airline travelers and we launched the first-ever database to track over 400 complaints of airline discrimination.

We filed 32 separate profiling complaints against the TSA. As our staff grew, we ramped up our capacity to provide direct support to hate crime victims. We launched our first-ever civil rights report, where we examined the problems Sikh children were facing in school. This report paved the way for many more influential reports in the years that followed.

We launched a new California office, hired more staff and started to scale our “Know Your Rights” materials and presentations to meet the needs of a community that was growing increasingly aware of our resources and demanding more of our support.

We launched our ambitious campaign to end religious discrimination in the military and won a historic new regulation that better protected Sikh children from bias-based harassment in NYC schools. In New Jersey, we helped secure Sikh history in curriculum standards, which jumpstarted other similar state campaigns that followed.

We filed winning discrimination cases against Lexus and Autozone and secured a landmark settlement in a New York City public school anti-bullying case. In Texas, we won the right for Sikh history to be taught in classrooms, which launched a multi-year campaign that secured inclusion of accurate Sikh history by many U.S. textbook manufacturers.

We celebrated our 10th anniversary by securing another milestone legal victory that allowed California Sikhs to maintain their articles of faith in prison. In NYC, we ushered in the landmark “Workplace Religious Freedom Act” and launched our Sikh Advocate Academy, which started a long-term program to empower community leaders to lead local civil rights initiatives.

On August 5, 2012 a gunman walked into a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and killed six Sikh worshippers, injuring several more. We continue to honor the victims by facilitating an annual National Day of Seva (selfless service) across the country. In California, we passed AB 1964, a monumental workplace discrimination law that better protects millions.

In response to Oak Creek, we secured FBI hate crime tracking for Sikhs. Separately, we leveraged our groundbreaking FlyRights smartphone application to hold the TSA more accountable for profiling. Our California November Sikh Awareness Month educated millions, while our Junior Sikh Coalition program became a model for empowering youth leadership.

We landed a victory on behalf of a Sikh child that improved anti-bullying protections for over 100,000 children and we continued to push the military to end their religious discrimination policy by rallying new support. We also added a communications department, which further enabled our programmatic work to thrive.

We were the lead partner with the White House AAPI on a new national #ActToChange anti-bullying initiative and we secured another major legal victory in a discrimination case against Disney World. We witnessed an increase in hate crime cases as we worked to provide even more resources to combat the problem.

We won a landmark legal victory that doubled the number of religious accommodations for Sikh soldiers. We protected Sikh history in California and passed an anti-bullying law that protects minority children across the state. We won a lengthy employment discrimination case on behalf of Sikh truckers and launched The Sikh Project, which educated 20 million Americans.

We secured updated rules by the U.S. Army that significantly improve the standards for Sikhs and other religious minorities to serve with their religious articles of faith intact. In a separate effort to invest more in the grassroots, we successfully contacted over 3,000 government officials at the local levels and launched our national Gurdwara Security Project aimed at making Sikh houses of worship safer in the increased climate of hate.

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Our Team

We provide professional expertise, leadership and impact that better protects your civil rights today and for the generations that follow.

Careers & Internships

The Sikh Coalition is an equal opportunity employer, and we encourage applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or age.

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Financial Information

From the very inception of the Sikh Coalition, we have endeavored to build a Sikh organization, which exceeds the highest standards of competence and professionalism. The Sikh Coalition strives to become a leader among American civil rights organizations. We are 100% committed to full financial transparency.

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