In March of 2020, counsel for a Sikh Physical Therapy Aide filed a complaint for religious discrimination, wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence in California Superior Court.
This Sikh physical therapy professional (“Mr. Singh,” who wishes to remain anonymous) wears a patka at work and maintains his unshorn hair and beard. In June of 2019, he was abruptly released from his job as a Physical Therapy Aide at a physical therapy practice in Southern California. According to the complaint, this dismissal came after a pattern of problematic, bias-based behavior from the establishment’s owner, including criticism of Mr. Singh’s articles of faith and accusations rooted in harmful stereotypes. Other employees of the same establishment have corroborated Mr. Singh’s account of bias-based behavior, including claims that the establishment’s owner said that they would “never hire someone like him.”
Mr. Singh courageously chose to fight back against this bias-based termination. Ultimately, the matter was resolved with the help of Sikh Coalition partnering with Cantor Law and Arendsen|Braddock LLP.
The successful resolution of Mr. Singh’s case is a victory for not just him, but anyone who has been treated unfairly at work (up to and including being terminated) because of how they look. As ever, our aim in providing free legal consulting, assisting in cultural competence, and helping fellow litigators take on these kinds of cases is to underscore that Sikhs deserve equal treatment–and human dignity–in every workplace.
WHY IT MATTERS
Although federal and state laws prohibit employers from harassing or discriminating in the workplace, or terminating an employee on the basis of race or religion, many employers continue to violate these protections. Such practices adversely impact Sikhs, as well as other racial, religious, and ethnic minorities.