February 1, 2024 (Denver, CO) – Last Friday, the Sikh Coalition filed a complaint and a motion to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit against major healthcare employers Global Medical Response (GMR), American Medical Response (AMR), and American Medical Response West (AMR West). This action is part of the Sikh Coalition’s continuing legal work, alongside co-counsels Scott Employment Law, P.C., Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, and Livelihood Law LLC, for our client Mr. Inder Dhanota, a Sikh EMT. In July 2023, the Sikh Coalition filed a complaint on behalf of Mr. Dhanota with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Civil Rights Department.
On December 22, 2022, Mr. Dhanota was dismissed from GMR/AMR after months of requesting personal protective equipment (PPE) that would accommodate his kesh. GMR/AMR insisted that Mr. Dhanota shave before returning to work even though he had completed his orientation (including fieldwork) successfully, was cleared for duty, and had been competently completing his work responsibilities for some time. Ultimately, Mr. Dhanota was dismissed from his position nearly three months after requesting an accommodation—and for that entire time, he was unable to clock in and work. Mr. Dhanota reached out to the Sikh Coalition in early 2023 following his dismissal.
“More than a year has passed since GMR wrongfully dismissed me because of my faith, which is something no one should be subjected to,” said Mr. Dhanota. “It was extremely disappointing that I could not use my medical and emergency preparedness knowledge to help others.”
Mr. Dhanota is the second client, after Mr. Ravinder Singh, to receive legal aid from the Sikh Coalition and our co-counsels due to employment discrimination by GMR/AMR. As a reminder, after the Sikh Coalition filed a complaint on Mr. Singh’s behalf for being wrongfully terminated and denied a PPE accommodation, the EEOC filed a nationwide lawsuit against these companies and their subsidiaries in October 2022.
“The Sikh Coalition remains committed to holding companies like GMR accountable when they fail to respect the faith and cultural practices of their employees,” added Amreen Partap Singh Bhasin, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney. “Over the past few years, we have led the way in ensuring that Sikh healthcare employees can access and use PPE that accommodates their articles of faith. No one should have to choose between their faith and their employment.”
Work to ensure equitable access to appropriate—and legally required—PPE remains an essential part of the Sikh Coalition legal team’s portfolio. Over the past several years, 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 Power Air-Purifying Respirators to individuals in need. Learn more about all of this work here. Moving forward, the Sikh Coalition will continue to advocate for Mr. Dhanota’s rights and to push GMR/AMR to change its discriminatory policies.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.