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November 15, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA) – Today, in a massive legal victory for the Sikh community, four Sikh truck drivers reached a settlement agreement with one of the largest trucking companies in the United States, J.B. Hunt. The Sikh Coalition, which has represented the clients since 2008, filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The ensuing federal investigation found evidence that the company had discriminated against the Sikhs due to their articles of faith.
J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay $260,000 in damages and to amend company policies and practices to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws. This outcome has a dramatic impact on all future employees who may face discrimination in the company’s workplace.
“No one should have to face humiliation because of their religious beliefs,” said the lead complainant, Jagtar Singh Anandpuri. “I have been driving a truck for years, and I know there is nothing about my faith that interferes with my ability to do my job.”
Three clients were denied accommodations after they informed the company that they could not cut their religiously mandated hair for drug testing. The fourth client was denied an accommodation after the company demanded that he remove his turban while providing a urine sample. Federal law does not require hair sample drug tests, nor removal of headwear during urine drug testing. Nonetheless, alternative forms of drug testing are available, including nail sample tests. In each case, J.B. Hunt automatically denied employment, despite the client’s impeccable job qualifications.
The J.B. Hunt case joins a growing list of high-impact employment discrimination victories that the Sikh Coalition has secured for the community. “Whether it’s successfully protecting religious freedom against the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Walt Disney World, we will always defend the right to be Sikh in the workplace,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur.
While these legal cases often require years of work behind-the-scenes to resolve, they remain critical to advancing civil rights for all Sikh Americans.
“The Sikh Coalition’s work to help Sikhs facing employment discrimination helps protect all of our rights,” said Mr. Anandpuri.
The Sikh Coalition thanks Professor James A. Sonne, clinic supervising attorney Zeba Huq, and the students of the Stanford University Law School Religious Liberty Clinic for their partnership on the case. The Coalition also thanks the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for their investigation and mediation of the case.
“The important work that the Sikh Coalition does to combat the problem of employment discrimination rivals any civil rights organization in America,” said the Stanford clinic's director, James A. Sonne.
As always, we urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.