New Army Rule Expands Sikh Equal Employment Opportunity
In the first days of 2017, the U.S. Army issued updated rules governing religious liberty that significantly improve the standards for Sikhs and other religious minorities who seek to serve their country with their religious articles of faith intact. Over eight years after the Sikh Coalition began a campaign to end the U.S. military’s presumptive ban on the service of observant Sikhs, the Army’s new rules represent a historic step forward for Sikhs and other religious minorities seeking to serve in our nation’s military.
The new rules, which were signed by the Secretary of the Army, eliminate bureaucratic hurdles that previously discriminated against Sikhs. Accommodation requests can now be approved at the brigade-level instead of going all the way to the Secretary of the Army. Once an approval occurs under the new rules, the religious accommodation is enduring and applies to most positions within the U.S. Army. The new Army policy does not apply to the other branches of the U.S. military.
New Website for a New Year
The Sikh Coalition is excited to announce a brand new, mobile-responsive website as we begin 2017.
This new website is designed for you, our most valuable user, to find all of the information and resources that are useful for you. This new website places an emphasis on making legal and educational materials easier to find, while also making it easy to learn more about the work that we’re doing on your behalf.
Take our new website for a spin! www.sikhcoalition.org
Sikh Doctor Stands Up To Employment Discrimination
The Sikh Coalition filed a lawsuit on December 27, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of Dr. Jaswinder Pal Singh. The suit alleges that Dr. Singh, an observant Sikh physician and father who keeps a religiously mandated turban and beard, was denied a neurology job after the employer and recruiter inquired into his religious appearance.
The suit further alleges that as part of the 2014 hiring process, the Tennessee-based medical group and its recruiter expressed interest and concern about the way Dr. Singh looked. Although in phone interviews the recruiter praised Dr. Singh’s credentials, he was abruptly denied further interviews after he submitted photographs of himself, along with additional information on Sikhs and Sikhism. Click here to learn more.
NYPD Announces Major Turban, Beard Policy Update
We have been working for over a decade to change the discriminatory policies of our nation’s largest municipal police force, the New York Police Department (NYPD). In recent years, that work has continued with community partners like the NYPD Sikh Officer Association. On December 28, 2016, the NYPD announced it will now allow Sikh officers to wear beards and turbans while in uniform.
No written policy has been shared that specifies the new turban and beard accommodation and the guidelines for how it applies. We look forward to reviewing the written policy before determining whether this is a complete fix, but we’re hopeful about what this announcement represents in the way of progress.
Click here to read more.
Thank You to our Supporters!
We are excited to share that together we met our year-end budget and raised $1,133,336 in our end-of-year fundraising campaign. Thank you! The collective sangat’s support allows us to continue our work into 2017.
• Raised $271,044 on November 29, 2016, for #GivingTuesday, including an incredibly generous matching fund of $100,000.
• Raised $111,747 at the 7th annual NYC Bowl-a-thon. [Click to see photos]
• Individual donations ranged from $2 – $70,000.
• Median donation was $100.
Sikh Coalition Resources to Educate and Combat Hate, Including Brochures in 15 Languages
In 2016, we saw brutal attacks against Sikhs and vandalism of gurdwaras. In addition to providing direct legal, communications and advocacy support to clients, we released a variety of new resources to combat hate and educate the public about Sikhism. Our hate crime poster, brochures that explain Sikhi in 15 languages and a wealth of other free resources are available on our website’s new resource page and free prints of brochures, posters and postcards are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sikh Coalition Offers Prayer at NYC Mayor’s Interfaith Breakfast
On January 12, 2017, Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur and her son Zoraver Singh offered a prayer at the Mayoral Interfaith Breakfast in New York City. They shared the Mool Mantar (central Sikh prayer that opens the Sikh scripture) with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his guests. Speakers were asked to reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. in their own words, and Sapreet connected the civil rights leader’s wisdom with the core Sikh principles of promoting justice and sarbat da bhala (blessings for everyone).
Hate Crime Case Update: Plea Deal in California Hate Crime Case
On December 22, 2016, the person accused of throwing a drink and yelling slurs at a Sikh American man in Bakersfield, California pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor battery and violating civil rights, a hate crime. As he confronted Balmeet Singh outside of a restaurant last September, the attacker reportedly yelled “You gonna blow up this country! … F*ck you! I should f*cking kill you right now.” The Sikh Coalition provided communications support to Mr. Singh after the incident.
Click here to read a local news story on this update.
Staff Update – New Interim Managing Director of Programs
The Sikh Coalition has retained Rajdeep Singh Jolly to serve as our interim managing director of programs. Rajdeep previously served as the Sikh Coalition’s senior director of law and policy and is currently the owner of R.S. Jolly Consulting LLC. In this new consulting role, Rajdeep will oversee the Sikh Coalition’s programs and assist with strategic planning and recruitment to position the Sikh Coalition for continued growth and success in the coming years.
Communications and Media Support for Sikh Rose Parade Float
For the third consecutive year, California sangat members designed a float aimed at educating the public about Sikhism for the January 2, 2017 Rose Parade. The Sikh community of Southern California invested significant resources into participating in the Rose Parade as an opportunity to spread awareness of Sikhism and promote the Sikh values of love, service, freedom and justice. This year, the Sikh Coalition worked with sangat members to facilitate media coverage of this creative float.
Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney Moderates Hate Crimes Panel
On January 6, 2017, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney Pawanpreet Kaur moderated a panel entitled “Hate Crimes, Anti-Semitism, and the Rise of the White Nationalist Right” at the How to Be a Good Ally Strategic Engagement Conference held in San Francisco, California. Madihha Ahussain of Muslim Advocates and Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League were the panel’s featured speakers. The conference hosted by the Bar Association of San Francisco and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein provided continuing legal education (CLE) credits to lawyers, and drew an audience of over 1,000 Bay Area attorneys and speakers from dozens of major civil rights and social justice organizations.