September 4, 2019 (New York, NY) – Two years ago, Sikh Coalition clients Arjan Singh Ghotra and Gurjiwan Singh Chahal completed Cadet Basic Training
at West Point Military Academy–another milestone moment in the successful effort to end religious discrimination in the U.S. Army. Since then, we have continued working to ensure that other branches of the U.S. military stop discriminating against Sikhs.
Beginning in 2009, the Sikh Coalition built and led a multiyear campaign that ultimately secured a landmark 2017 policy change in the U.S. Army
that dramatically reduced the barriers for Sikhs seeking religious accommodations. Today, more than 60 Sikh U.S. service members, including at least 20 previous Sikh Coalition clients
, are no longer faced with the false choice between practicing their faith and pursuing their military career.
“The Sikh Coalition helped me pursue the career I worked so hard to achieve while staying true to my faith,” said U.S. Army Captain Simratpal Singh
. Upon starting at West Point, CPT Singh was forced to cut his hair and shave his beard; thanks to years of advocacy
by the Sikh Coalition, McDermott Will & Emery, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, CPT Singh has an enduring religious accommodation that protects his rights. “No other organization in the country has the legal expertise and proven track record of success to end religious discrimination in the workplace.”
In 2019, the Sikh Coalition is pursuing similar accommodations for clients in other branches of the military, including a Sikh client serving in the U.S. Air Force. Beyond this individual accommodation, the Sikh Coalition is pursuing broader policy change. Much of this legal and advocacy work continues behind the scenes to ensure that we are advancing long-term progress.
“Since securing the landmark 2017 Army policy change, the Sikh Coalition has continued to monitor military policy and represent more clients seeking accommodations,” said Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur. “We are grateful to our legal partners and other organizations who continue this fight with us, and we look forward to bringing this important issue back to the forefront of our work.”
Ultimately, the goal of this multiyear campaign is to secure permanent policy changes that end religious discrimination by our nation’s largest employer: the U.S. Department of Defense. Achieving that victory will be critical to ending discrimination in workplaces across the country. If you have more questions about this work, you can read our community FAQ here
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly. If you or someone you know needs legal support on employment discrimination, hate crimes, racial profiling, school bullying or accommodations for your articles of faith, please reach out to our team