April 8, 2024 (New York, NY) — The Sikh Coalition recently helped another sangat member—a young Singh working to become a pilot—ensure that he did not have to choose between his career and faith. Though details for this case are anonymized to protect this individual from any possible retribution, we wanted to share more about this success. 

In January of this year, a young Mr. Singh requested an accommodation from the flight school where he is currently training to become a commercial airline pilot in order to maintain both his dastaar and kesh. While the request was approved with respect to his turban, he was denied permission to maintain his beard; the school requires its trainees to be clean shaven, and asserted that commercial airlines do the same. 

In response to the denial, this individual sought legal aid from the Sikh Coalition. Within a few weeks, our attorneys sent a letter clearly and concisely arguing that:

  • State law provides for reasonable religious accommodations for students of the school;
  • The maintenance of this young man’s unshorn beard is an essential part of his Sikhi; and
  • Many airline companies and other flight schools do, in fact, allow pilots to have beards.

Just a few weeks later, the flight school relented and confirmed that this young Singh would be permitted to move forward with his studies—and his Sikhi intact! 

“I knew that I had the right to keep my beard and pursue my dream of becoming a pilot,” said Mr. Singh. “I’m grateful the Sikh Coalition was able to step in and affirm my rights without needing to escalate the situation or bring pressure or scrutiny back on to me. I hope that other Sikhs know that they shouldn’t have to choose between their faith and their career, and that the Sikh Coalition is here to help if someone tries to force that choice on them.”

Many legal victories take years of mediation, trials, and intense publicity. Other times, however, securing justice is simply a question of bringing the right expertise and an authoritative voice to the conversation. The Sikh Coalition remains honored to leverage our more than 20 years of expertise to fight for sangat members, no matter what discrimination they face against their Sikh identity. If you or someone you know has faced such injustice, reach out to our team

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.