In December of 2020, Paramjit Singh Sandhu, a truck driver, faced a violation of his religious rights when he reported to a medical facility in Sachse, TX, for what should have been a routine drug test as part of his job.
Mr. Sandhu has been in the trucking profession for more than 20 years; like others in his line of employment, he is required by the Department of Transportation to undergo random drug testing. When he arrived at a MedPost Urgent Care facility to do so, however, he was told by an employee and the employee’s supervisor that he was not allowed to complete the procedure with his dastaar on. This claim was in violation of Mr. Sandhu’s religious rights–and the regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Mr. Sandhu rightly refused to remove his dastaar, and with free legal aid from the Sikh Coalition, was able to successfully resolve the issue.
After leaving MedPost, Mr. Sandhu consulted with the Sikh Coalition. Our legal team was able to inform him that he was correct: the Department of Transportation (DOT) allows a religious exemption for maintaining articles of faith during drug tests, absent reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. We contacted CareSpot, the parent company of MedPost, and advised them of this violation of the DOT’s religious accommodation policy; we were then able to secure a written accommodation for Mr. Sandhu on January 5, 2021, and he got his drug test shortly thereafter with his articles of faith intact.
WHY IT MATTERS
All healthcare providers must recognize the protections that the federal government, including the DOT, offer to religious minorities when their facilities are used to execute federally required testing or treatment. Drug testing is one area where observant Sikhs are frequently and falsely told there are ‘issues’ with their articles of faith (including, but not limited to, dastaar and kesh). The Sikh Coalition stands ready to provide information about existing policies or fight for the creation of new policies to prevent these difficulties, because no one should have to make a choice between their career and their religious beliefs.