October 3, 2022 (Denver, CO) – On Friday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has filed a nationwide lawsuit against Global Medical Response (GMR), American Medical Response (AMR), and AMR’s subsidiaries. This lawsuit is a result, in part, of the wrongful termination of Mr. Ravinder Singh, a Sikh paramedic and client represented by the Sikh Coalition and our co-counsel at Buckley Beal LLP.
In November of 2020, Mr. Singh was wrongfully dismissed from AMR after he requested and was denied personal protective equipment (PPE) that would accommodate his turban and beard. This denial came after Mr. Singh had already been provided with and successfully used a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) during his paramedic training under AMR staff in September of 2020. Despite the fact that Mr. Singh satisfied his training requirements, was hired to work for AMR, and provided AMR with documentation about the Sikh articles of faith and his sincere need for an accommodation, AMR still insisted upon Mr. Singh using an N95 mask as opposed to any other kind of PPE. Ultimately, Mr. Singh was dismissed from his position in violation of his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
“In the early days of the pandemic, when I was training with AMR, I was eager to use my medical and emergency preparedness knowledge to help others,” said Mr. Singh. “It was extremely difficult to be turned away from that urgent work because of my faith–but now, I am able to be of service with appropriate and effective PPE in my new position. Ultimately, I’m supporting this legal action because no qualified professional should ever be forced to sit at home when they could be out saving lives.”
“Like every other employer in the United States, AMR has a simple and clear obligation to keep its employees safe while they perform their jobs,” added Giselle Klapper, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney. “We know that paramedics like Mr. Singh are capable of performing their work with a PAPR, and that AMR is capable of providing such equipment. Why any company would turn away a qualified paramedic and violate their civil rights in the middle of a global pandemic is beyond comprehension.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sikh Coalition has led the way in working to ensure that Sikh healthcare employees are able to access and use PPE that functions properly with their articles of faith. We have provided guidance on requesting accommodations, submitted policy recommendations and testimony to government agencies, taken on individual legal cases like Mr. Singh’s, and even secured and distributed donated PAPRs to individuals in need. Learn more about all of this work here.
The Sikh Coalition expects this case to move forward in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in the weeks ahead; we will continue to provide updates when appropriate. If you or someone you know has faced discrimination in the workplace–either related to PPE issues or for any other reason–please contact our legal team for assistance.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.