The Washington Post

Sikh TSA agent wins suit over religious wristband

WASHINGTON — A Sikh security officer at New York’s largest airport won a $30,000 settlement against the Department of Homeland Security, which had forbidden him from displaying his kara — a wristband that Sikhs wear to remind them of the divine.

Kulwinder Singh called it a violation of his religious rights, and took his case to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC determined that the Transportation Security Administration was wrong to have Singh hide his kara under a long-sleeved shirt, or not wear it at all.

The case alleged discrimination on the basis of Singh’s religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC decided the case in March and required the TSA to allow employees to wear the kara freely, and to post a notice of the violation by mid-June.

“Whenever you raise your hand, it’s supposed to be there,” said Singh, who has worked as a TSA agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport for more than five years. Nearly two years ago, he was told by a supervisor to remove the kara, or hide it.

The kara, a steel or iron band which also represents the eternal nature of the divine, is supposed to remind the wearer to behave righteously and to protect others. “By keeping it concealed, it defeats that purpose,” said Hansdeep Singh, an attorney who represented Kulwinder Singh.

The DHS did not immediately comment on the settlement.

Hansdeep Singh said he sees discrimination against Sikhs — a 500-year-old monotheistic religion practiced mostly in Southeast Asia — as a litmus test for discrimination in general, because Sikhism is manifested in adherents’ outward appearance.

Beyond the kara, Sikh men don’t cut their hair and wear it under turbans. Sikh and Muslim workers at New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority recently won a ruling that allows them to wear blue turbans on the job without having to affix an MTA logo.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Universal Uclick.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read

national

religion

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.