This Article is From Dec 05, 2013

Sikh man gets USD 50,000 after being denied job due to his beard

Sikh man gets USD 50,000 after being denied job due to his beard
New Jersey: In 2008 Gurpreet Kherha, an Indian-American Sikh man, was denied a job because of his beard. This week he has received 50,000 dollars as compensation.

Five years ago, Mr Kherha, who is now 29, had applied for a sales job at a car dealership, Tri-County Lexus in Little Falls, in New Jersey. He was praised for his performance during training, but when it came to the interview was told he would not get the job because of the company's 'no beard policy.'

Mr Kherha then took his case to the Sikh Coalition, a community organisation, which filed a discrimination claim along with the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in November 2008, and a lawsuit was filed in New Jersey State Court in February 2010.

In a statement, Mr Kherha said, "I believe the overall outcome of the case was very positive. I feel proud that I was able to stand up for myself as a Sikh and by extension the Sikh community. Educating the public about our religion is invaluable, as is standing up for our rights, and serves not only this generation, but future generations as well."

Ravinder Bhalla, Mr Kherha's attorney told NDTV, "The positive from this whole outcome is that Mr. Kherha was awarded compensation for the violation of his civil rights and now there is mandatory training at the car dealership to make sure they comply with federal civil right laws. That is the real victory, not only for Mr. Kherha and the Sikh community but for everyone."

This comes after the recent defacement of Gap ads featuring a Sikh, Waris Ahluwalia, a renowned jewellery designer and a prominent New York socialite, and is an unfortunate reflection of the alleged discrimination faced by minorities post 9/11 in streets and in offices across America. However, American Sikhs say there is hope that change, however slow, will come.

Amardeep Singh, Co-Founder of the Sikh Coalition told NDTV, "I think we Sikhs are in an awkward phase with our relationship with America. When you just get into a dance and are getting to know your partner, America is getting to know who we are and what we are about. But I have faith, and this case and the Gap case proves it, if you are proud of who you are and are delivering something of value to society, people will eventually get it."