New York's mass transit system will allow Sikh and Muslim employees to wear religious headgear after settlement on Wednesday of a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination against workers from those faiths.
The Sikh Coalition announced victory in the legal battle against the Metropolitan Transport Authority, saying "Sikh and Muslim workers may now wear their religious headdress freely - as they were allowed to do so before 9/11 - without fear of segregation or discipline."
The MTA allegedly discriminated against Sikhs and Muslims in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, forcing those who wore their religious headgear to remain out of public view or to wear an MTA corporate logo.
Under the settlement, which finds no fault or liability, the only requirement now will be for headgear to be in the MTA's standard blue colour.
"I am relieved that the policy of branding or segregating Sikh or Muslim workers is coming to an end," said plaintiff Sat Hari Singh, also known as Kevin Harrington, a Sikh train operator.
"The MTA honored me for driving my train in reverse away from the towers on 9/11 and leading passengers to safety. They called me a 'hero of 9/11.' I didn't have a corporate logo on my turban on 9/11. This policy made no sense. It was driven by fear. I'm glad it has come to an end."
In a statement, the MTA said its rules had been "reasonable" and "never animated by religious or ethnic bias."