Discrimination Settlement Reached with U.S. Trucking Giant
In a massive legal victory for the Sikh community, four Sikh truck drivers reached a settlement agreement on November 15, 2016 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 our clients due to their Sikh 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, opening doors to employment.
In addition to the incredible legal results, our media work reached an estimated 350 outlets across the country, educating the broader public about Sikh articles of faith and sending a strong message to combat employment discrimination.
to read our national advisory in English or Punjabi.
to read the LA Times story.
to read the Associated Press story.
Know Your Rights & Exercise Caution
In the wake of intensifying hate speech and hate violence nationwide, the Sikh Coalition urges every Sikh to exercise extra vigilance and caution.
If you are threatened with violence or experience violence, please notify law enforcement immediately and contact the Sikh Coalition at 212-655-3095 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Similarly, if you are a victim of hate speech, please report it through our new tracking website, Report Hate (www.ReportHate.org)
As we move into the busiest travel time of the year, it’s also important that Sikh travelers understand their rights. We urge you to review our Sikh Air Traveler’s Guide and Bill of Rights
, which contains detailed information on airport screening procedures and your rights as a traveler, and to download our phone app, Flyrights (www.fly-rights.org)
. We are here to protect your rights.
This month we remember and pay tribute to the innocent lives lost in 1984 and continue to demand justice and accountability. Starting on November 1, 1984, tens of thousands of Sikhs were murdered in India in largely government-sanctioned violence.
Please read this piece in Time Magazine
, which examines the Indian government's active role in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms. Also read this firsthand account
from a survivor of the attacks on the Darbar Sahib complex (Golden Temple).
“It is our responsibility to remember and draw strength from our Panth’s sacrifices.” -Sawinder Singh, 1984 Survivor
Events and Official Resolutions Celebrate CA Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month
Over 350 members of the California sangat joined the Sikh Coalition and the Los Angeles Clippers on November 9, 2016 as part of Sikh Awareness & Appreciation Month (SAAM). Raaginder “Violinder” Singh played the national anthem
to the 19,000 inside the stadium and the thousands who were watching on television across the state of California.
On the same day, Assemblymember Jim Cooper presented Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra and Sikh Coalition Community Development Manager Harjit Kaur with the state member resolution celebrating SAAM. Cities across California, including Yuba City, Fresno and Santa Clara, have followed suit and have passed proclamations recognizing SAAM.
We encourage California sangat members to participate by organizing presentations, working with local officials to pass proclamations or creating a Sikh display. If you would like resources and assistance, please check out our resources page
and/or email our Community Development Manager Harjit Kaur at email@example.com
Help Make Change Possible
The Sikh Coalition's end-of-year fundraising drive has launched, and we need YOU to help us fight for civil rights
in 2017 and beyond.
We must raise $1.1 million before the end of 2016 to jumpstart the next 15 years of impact. This is the baseline we need to continue our work on behalf of the community. In order for us to collectively succeed, we need to individually contribute
. Together, we will continue to create lasting impact. We continue to fight for our rights today and for generations to come.
Participation in Advocacy Panels & Award
Over the past month, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh spoke at multiple events around the country. He presented on two keynote panels at the University of Utah as part of its annual series on remembering the Holocaust. His first keynote was with the Hinckley Institute and focused on “The Dynamics of Religious Discrimination.” The second keynote focused on the intersections of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments, and how they manifest themselves in today’s world. Simran also spoke on panels at the University of Connecticut and Columbia University after screenings of the new short film by Maneetpaul Singh entitled “They Called me Osama.” Finally, Simran received the Walter Wink Scholar-Activist Award by the Auburn Theological Seminary.
Addressing Racial Justice Convening and Georgetown University Law Center
Director of Law and Policy Arjun Singh participated in a panel at the Facing Race conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where he discussed profiling and intensifying hate violence against Sikh, Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Americans. The conference is one of the largest public interest convenings in the country and included more than 2,000 attendees. Arjun Singh also addressed similar issues at Georgetown University Law Center in a widely attended panel entitled, “From Hoodies to Hijabs.” In his remarks, Arjun explored the intersection between the war on crime and the war on terror, and addressed mistreatment experienced by communities of color at large, including African Americans and Muslim Americans.
Presenting to Las Vegas School District on Sikhi and Bullying
On November 11, 2016, Community Development Manager Harjot Kaur presented to the Clark County School District Equity and Diversity Education Department of Las Vegas, Nevada on Sikh awareness and bias-based bullying against Sikh youth. The Clark County School District is the 5th largest school district in the nation. After receiving the Sikh Coalition’s letter to educators
in January, the department reached out to the Sikh Coalition to organize a formal presentation to proactively work together against discrimination. We look forward to working with CCSD further in 2017.
Happy Gurpurab and White House Celebration
This month, Sikhs around the world are celebrating the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak was a community leader inspired by his faith to reduce suffering in this world; a spiritual warrior who confronted tyrants in the name of justice; a divine poet who loved and served unconditionally; and a revolutionary who challenged systemic oppression and envisioned entirely new institutions based on equity and justice. We honor his legacy by doing our best to act upon these values.
We were honored to participate in the White House event celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurab, which included Ardaas (prayer), a musical performance and speeches by Sikh leaders. To view photos, click here
Bandi Chhor Divas, Waris Ahluwalia Day & Sikh Coalition Award
Sikhs also have been celebrating Bandi Chhor Divas, the "Day of Liberation," which marks the occasion in 1619 when Guru Hargobind and 52 kings and princes were released from prison by India’s Mughal ruler of the time, Jahangir. Learn more about Bandi Chhor Divas in this Huffington Post piece
by Sikh Coalition Social Justice Fellow Rupinder Singh.
New York City declared October 19, 2016 as Waris Ahluwalia Day
during a Divali celebration. It means a lot for a Sikh American to be recognized in this tense political and social climate. Also Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur attended Vice President Biden’s Divali event. Finally, the Sikh Coalition received an award from the Office of the NYC Comptroller for “outstanding efforts to promote human and civil rights.”
Solidarity with Native Americans at Standing Rock
The local Standing Rock Sioux tribe, joined by over 90 Native American nations and thousands of supporters from across North America, have been protesting to block the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The oil project, which President Obama is set to approve, threatens sacred Native American lands and could contaminate their water supply from the Missouri river. To learn more about the DAPL issue, click here
We stand in absolute solidarity with Native Americans at Standing Rock, and we will be co-leading a delegation of civil rights leaders to North Dakota this December, as we join in protest against this profoundly problematic violation of civil rights.
The Sikh Coalition provided support, including legal counsel and communications/media advocacy, to Sikhs who experienced harassment and violence:
- On October 14, 2016, authorities filed hate crime charges
against the suspects accused of attacking Maan Singh Khalsa. The Sikh Coalition provided support to Mr. Khalsa after he was brutally assaulted and his Sikh articles of faith were violently desecrated on September 25 in Richmond, CA. The arraignment took place on November 21, and the defendants entered not-guilty pleas. We continue to provide counsel in this case and have confidence in the judicial process.
- On October 26, 2016, one of the attackers of Amrik Singh Bal was found guilty of a hate crime
. The Sikh Coalition provided support after two young men brutally assaulted Mr. Bal, calling out “ISIS. Terrorist. Let’s get him” and running him over with a car in Fresno, CA in December 2015.
- On October 21, 2016, authorities filed a hate crime charge
against the suspect who reportedly threw a drink at Balmeet Singh and said to him, “You're trying to blow up this country... I should f*** kill you right now.” The Sikh Coalition provided support to Mr. Singh after the incident.
Strategies for Combating Hate and Addressing Islamophobia
Community Development Manager Harjit Kaur participated in a panel at the California Association of Human Relations conference in San Jose, California, where she discussed strategies for addressing Islamophobia and hate violence against Sikh, Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Americans. Harjit was joined by Council on American-Islamic Relations Representative Zahra Billoo; Not In Our Schools Director Becki Vargas; and moderator Robin S. Toma, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.
The Unity Bar Association and South Asian Bar Association of Sacramento honored Harjit with an award for her work to address domestic violence and her civil rights advocacy.
Participation in Florida Education Conference
As part of the ongoing initiative
to combat anti-Sikh prejudice through education in the nation's public schools, Sikh Coalition representatives Damanpreet Singh and Maggie Lloyd attended the annual Florida Council for the Social Studies conference this month. Over the course of the weekend, they distributed educational resources about Sikhism to Florida educators and connected with teachers, policy makers, textbook authors and representatives from other educational organizations. Conference attendees also received Florida-specific resources on how best to include Sikhism in their classrooms. The Sikh Coalition will continue long-term engagement with educators and policy makers in Florida to enrich the state curriculum.
Legal Staff Presentations on Workplace Discrimination
Sikh Coalition Legal Director Harsimran Kaur spoke about religious discrimination in the workplace to a standing room only crowd at the American Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section's annual conference in Chicago, IL on November 10, 2016. She discussed accommodation of kirpans, turbans and beards in the workplace, amongst other topics.
Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney Pawanpreet Kaur spoke on November 5, 2016 at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association's annual conference in San Diego, CA about our work to end discrimination by our nation's largest employer, the U.S. Department of Defense, which continues to ban observant Sikhs from serving in our armed forces.
Both speaking engagements provided continuing legal education credits to conference attendees.
In this Issue