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The Sikh Coalition News
December 17, 2020
  • Opposing the EEOC's New Discrimination Guidance 

    December 17, 2020 (Washington, DC) -- Today, the Sikh Coalition is taking action to oppose the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) effort to dramatically and abruptly alter the Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination. These last-minute changes have the potential to negatively affect Sikhs and other underrepresented groups in the workplace for years to come.

    This manual provides critical guidance to employees, employers, EEOC investigators, and others regarding the application of anti-discrimination law in the workplace. Many of the changes being proposed, however, mischaracterize and misinterpret legal standards regarding individual employee protections and employer obligations in a way that could allow for further discrimination against Sikhs and other individuals.

    The last time the guidance was updated, in 2008, the EEOC took years and solicited feedback during the process from a wide range of organizations, including the Sikh Coalition. This year, new changes were abruptly announced--without necessary stakeholder consultation--and with an impossibly short 30 day public comment period.

    “The proposed changes to the manual lack the neutrality and balance that should characterize this critical guidance,” explained Amrith Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “Because the EEOC is pushing these changes through without culturally competent stakeholder collaboration and a meaningful review period, we are working to make sure that the voices of Sikhs and other groups affected by these changes are heard.”

    To oppose these changes, the Sikh Coalition has written an organizational letter and recruited more than 50 partner organizations to sign on. The letter calls for the new manual to be rejected, and argues that a more inclusive process to revise it should begin anew. In addition, we have submitted our public comment expressing our strong opposition to the new manual, and are speaking with national-level reporters about the importance of this issue.

    “At the end of the day, this new manual and other recent policy changes are essentially putting majority religious groups in a ‘separate and unequal’ category from everyone else--including religious minorities like Sikhs, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and others,” continued Kaur. “These actions will allow those majority groups to discriminate without government enforcement of the law, and we cannot allow them to stand.”

    The EEOC’s public comment period concludes this week, and the Sikh Coalition will continue to provide updates on the path forward and our options for continuing to oppose these changes. In the meantime, if you or someone you know has faced discrimination or bigotry in the workplace, be sure to contact us for free legal aid.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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