July 24, 2023 (Oakland, CA) – Last Friday, on behalf of Inder Dhanota, and in association with co-counsel, the Sikh Coalition dual-filed a Charge of Discrimination and Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Civil Rights Department against Global Medical Response (GMR) and its subsidiary American Medical Response (AMR). This complaint is a result of the wrongful termination of Mr. Dhanota, a Sikh paramedic and client represented by the Sikh Coalition, Scott Employment Law, P.C., and Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP. This is now the second client, after Mr. Ravinder Singh, who has approached the Sikh Coalition for legal assistance due to employment discrimination by this company.
On December 22, 2022, Mr. Dhanota was dismissed from GMR/AMR after multiple months of attempting to request personal protective equipment (PPE) that would accommodate his Sikh articles of faith, including his beard. Despite the fact that Mr. Dhanota completed his orientation successfully (including training in the field), was hired to work for AMR, cleared for duty, and requested AMR provide him with a religious accommodation, AMR still insisted that Mr. Dhanota shave before returning to the job he had already been successfully performing. Ultimately, Mr. Dhanota was dismissed from his position after waiting nearly six months since he had first requested an accommodation—and for nearly half of that time, he was unable to clock in and work.
“I am incredibly disheartened and frustrated that I was strung along for months as I sought an accommodation, only to ultimately be turned away from doing the job that I was trained to do,” said Mr. Dhanota. “I lost out on an opportunity to earn a living doing work that helps others, and it is hard to know that I could be using my knowledge of medical and emergency preparedness right now if not for such a simple request.”
“Like any company, GMR and its subsidiaries have a simple obligation in cases like Mr. Dhanota’s: provide equipment that both keeps their employees safe and respects their faith,” added Amreen Partap Singh Bhasin, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney. “This pattern of behavior, as evidenced by the experiences of multiple clients, is alarming. We all benefit from having as many qualified medical professionals who are willing to render emergency services out on the job.”
As a reminder, after the Sikh Coalition filed a complaint on Mr. Ravinder Singh’s behalf for being wrongfully terminated by AMR and denied a PPE accommodation, the EEOC filed a nationwide lawsuit against these same parent companies in October 2022.
After last week’s filing, the Sikh Coalition will continue to advocate for Mr. Dhanota’s rights and to push GMR to change its discriminatory policies. 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. Dhanota’s, and even secured and distributed donated PAPRs to individuals in need. Learn more about all of this work here.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.