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AT&T Reverses Kirpan Ban After Sikh Coalition Intervenes

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to you and Sikh Coalition for all the help and cooperation you provided me at the crucial moment. It has made AT&T rethink and reconsider their earlier decision of not allowing me to wear KIRPAN in the office.  Thanks for standing up for SIKHISM. Keep up the good work.

--Harcharan Singh

, Ohio (October 24, 2007) - An AT&T office in Brecksville, Ohio has reversed its workplace ban against kirpans.  Harcharan Singh (Sandhu), an IT consultant from India will be allowed to continue consulting for AT&T and will not be sent back to India.  AT&T reversed its decision one week after the Sikh Coalition's intervention.

Harcharan Singh is an amritdhari Sikh employed by called Tech Mahindra.  As mandated by his faith, he carries a kirpan.  Tech Mahindra sent him from India to Brecksville, Ohio in May of 2007 to provide IT consulting services for AT&T.  Shortly after Harcharan Singh started, he voluntarily disclosed to Tech Mahindra and AT&T that he carried a kirpan.  Over the course of the summer the two companies discussed the issue of whether Mr. Sandhu should be allowed to carry his kirpan while working at AT&T. 

Initially Told He Could Not Carry His Kirpan and that He Would Be Sent Back to India
On September 18, 2007, Tech Mahindra informed Harcharan Singh that AT&T would not allow him to wear a kirpan in the workplace.  They gave him an ultimatum: Give up his kirpan in the workplace, or give up his assignment and go back to India.

Harcharan Singh contacted the Sikh Coalition later that day.  On the morning of September 19, 2007, the Coalition faxed a letter to a Senior Technical Director at AT&T that explained the significance of the kirpan and requested that the company reconsider its decision.  The letter included the Coalition's now standard twenty-eight page compilation of legal argument and precedent on the kirpan and Sikhs' right to carry it. 

After reading the letter and attachments, the Senior Technical Director expressed to Harcharan Singh his belief that the kirpan was religious article and should be allowed in the workplace.  However, the Director's superiors at AT&T told him that they must first have staff from the corporate security department view his kirpan before making a final decision.  AT&T allowed Harcharan Singh to continue working from its Brecksville, OH office pending its decision.

Final Decision
A week later, on September 26, 2007, a corporate security staff member from AT&T's office in Columbus, OH viewed his kirpan and took pictures of it.  The next day, on September 27, 2007, AT&T informed Tech Mahindra that it would reverse its initial decision and allow him to carry his kirpan in its workplace.

Harcharan Singh remains in the U.S. and continues to proudly wear his kirpan in his workplace at AT&T.

The Coalition would like to thank AT&T for its prompt attention to its concerns and its work to ensure the workplace is respectful of America's diversity.


We urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. If someone tells you to remove your articles of faith, please report the incident online at www.sikhcoalition.org/ListReports.asp.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!

A History Success: The Sikh Coalition Work to Protect the Right to Carry the Kirpan

New York City v. Makhan Singh, November 8, 2001: The Queens District Attorney's office decides to drop weapons possession charges against Makhan Singh for wearing a one foot long kirpan openly over his clothing in John F. Kennedy Airport.

Knox County v. Charanjit Singh Dhadwal, December 6, 2001: The Knox County Prosecutor's office drops weapons possession charges against Charanjit Singh for carrying a kirpan on his person while he was driving his truck through Tennessee.

City of New York v. Harjit Singh and Lal Singh Jassal, January 2002: A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Harjit Singh and Lal Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.

Menomee Falls v. Hargian Singh, August 29, 2002: Hargian Singh was given a citation for wearing a kirpan in Menomee Falls, Wisconsin. At trial the judge dismissed the charges and apologized to Hargian Singh after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.

New York City v. Joginder Singh, October 31, 2002: A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Joginder Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.

Scagville v. Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh, February 19, 2003: Police in Scagville, Maryland release Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh who they had detained for one hour after they received a faxed letter from the Sikh Coalition explaining that their kirpan are protected religious articles.

New York v. Kashmir Singh, April 13, 2004: A prosecutor in Manhattan drops criminal charges against a Sikh cab driver for carrying the kirpan.

State of Montana v. Sarjeet Singh and Gurnam Singh, April 20, 2004: A prosecutor in Big Horn County, Montana drops a kirpan prosecution against two Sikh truckers for carrying kirpans on their persons while driving through Montana.

Ohio v. Anoop Kaur Ahluwalia, May 12, 2004: Weapon possession charge dropped against a Sikh woman who entered an airport wearing her kirpan.

City of Bellevue v. Gagandeep Singh
September 17, 2004, criminal charges dropped for carry the kirpan by local prosecutors in Bellevue, Washington.

State of Washington, County of Kittitas v. Gajjan Singh Bal
July 28, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh trucker are dropped for carrying his kirpan while working by local prosecutors in Kittitas County, Washington.

State of California v. Kamaldeep Singh
August 4, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh student for carrying the kirpan while studying in the cafeteria are dropped by local prosecutors.

State of Michigan v. Bhagwant Singh
August 16, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying his kirpan while waiting for his father in his car outside an airport are dropped by local prosecutors in Wayne County, Michigan.

Oregon vs. Gurpal Singh
October 1, 2004 - Prosecutors in Roseberg, Oregon decline to file criminal charges against Gurpal Singh (Gill), a Sikh truck driver who was issued a criminal citation for carrying his kirpan, after the Sikh Coalition intervenes.

The Sikh Coalition is a community-based organization that works for the realization of civil and human rights for all people. The Coalition serves as a resource on Sikhs and Sikh concerns for government, organizations and individuals.

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