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Lexus dealership accused of discrimination against Sikh job applicant

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by Chaan Pardesi, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. Chaan Pardesi

    Chaan Pardesi
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    Lexus Dealership Accused of Discrimination Against Sikh Job Applicant
    Saturday, October 2, 2010
    BY ELIZABETH LLORENTE

    The federal government is suing a Totowa Lexus dealership, contending that it discriminated against a Paramus man when it denied him employment because he would not shave his beard, which he wears as part of his Sikh faith.

    In the suit, filed at U.S. District Court in Newark, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that Tri-County Lexus engaged in "unlawful employment practices" that resulted in discrimination on the basis of religion. The EEOC says that Tri-County Lexus "strictly enforced its dress code without granting reasonable religious accommodations."
    The suit says Gurpreet S. Kherha was unquestionably qualified for the sales associate job that he sought in 2008. It says Kherha did well in an interview, and was then placed in training — along with other applicants — for the sales job.

    The EEOC, which investigated the discrimination claim for more than a year before filing the suit this week, says Kherha even was singled out for praise for his performance during the training. The suit, which seeks a jury trial, says a recruiter acting on behalf of the dealership told Kherha that he would be hired if he shaved his beard to comply with the business's grooming policy.

    "Kherha told [the] defendant's recruiter that he could not do so because this would violate his religious beliefs," the suit says. After the recruiter, an employee of T.K. Worldwide, relayed this to the dealership, the suit says, he "then returned to tell Kherha that he would not obtain the job because of the grooming policy despite Kherha being qualified for this position."
    Efforts to get a comment from Tri-County Lexus, which will have about a month to respond to the suit, were unsuccessful. Kherha also could not be reached.

    EEOC lawyer Jeffrey Burstein said Tri-County Lexus made no effort to work something out with Kherha so that he could get the job without defying his faith.

    Burstein said the EEOC has handled other cases dealing with discrimination against Sikhs. He said the commission also has filed lawsuits against employers who have fired Sikh workers because of their turbans.
    Another lawsuit on Kherha's behalf against Tri-County Lexus was filed in February in Superior Court in Paterson. That lawsuit was filed by The Sikh Coalition, a national group that advocates for Sikhs and works to raise awareness about the religion.

    The reason our organization exists is because Sikhs are discriminated against because of our religious appearance," said Harsimran Kaur, legal director for the coalition. The beard and the turban, which are part of the Sikh articles of faith, conjure misperceptions among many people, Kaur said.

    "People mistake it with being affiliated with al-Qaida and the Taliban," she said.

    Kaur said state and federal employment laws say that employers should accommodate workers' religious practices unless doing so would bring undue hardship.

    Kaur said her organization attempted to address Kherha's situation with the dealership, to no avail.

    She said Kherha is working for a law firm, conducting research while he pursues a graduate degree in business.

    A press release about the coalition's lawsuit included a statement by Kherha that said: "I am taking a stand against not only Tri-County Lexus, but all employers who discriminate against qualified applicants. I don't want any other Sikh to be told they are well-educated and well-qualified, but not hired because of their faith."

    Both the EEOC and coalition lawsuits seek back pay, as well as compensation for pain, suffering and humiliation in amounts to be determined at trial.

    Staff Writer Jennifer H. Cunningham contributed to this article.

    The federal government is suing a Totowa Lexus dealership, contending that it discriminated against a Paramus man when it denied him employment because he would not shave his beard, which he wears as part of his Sikh faith.

    In the suit, filed at U.S. District Court in Newark, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that Tri-County Lexus engaged in "unlawful employment practices" that resulted in discrimination on the basis of religion. The EEOC says that Tri-County Lexus "strictly enforced its dress code without granting reasonable religious accommodations."
    The suit says Gurpreet S. Kherha was unquestionably qualified for the sales associate job that he sought in 2008. It says Kherha did well in an interview, and was then placed in training — along with other applicants — for the sales job.

    The EEOC, which investigated the discrimination claim for more than a year before filing the suit this week, says Kherha even was singled out for praise for his performance during the training. The suit, which seeks a jury trial, says a recruiter acting on behalf of the dealership told Kherha that he would be hired if he shaved his beard to comply with the business's grooming policy.

    "Kherha told [the] defendant's recruiter that he could not do so because this would violate his religious beliefs," the suit says. After the recruiter, an employee of T.K. Worldwide, relayed this to the dealership, the suit says, he "then returned to tell Kherha that he would not obtain the job because of the grooming policy despite Kherha being qualified for this position."
    Efforts to get a comment from Tri-County Lexus, which will have about a month to respond to the suit, were unsuccessful. Kherha also could not be reached.

    EEOC lawyer Jeffrey Burstein said Tri-County Lexus made no effort to work something out with Kherha so that he could get the job without defying his faith.

    Burstein said the EEOC has handled other cases dealing with discrimination against Sikhs. He said the commission also has filed lawsuits against employers who have fired Sikh workers because of their turbans.
    Another lawsuit on Kherha's behalf against Tri-County Lexus was filed in February in Superior Court in Paterson. That lawsuit was filed by The Sikh Coalition, a national group that advocates for Sikhs and works to raise awareness about the religion.

    "The reason our organization exists is because Sikhs are discriminated against because of our religious appearance," said Harsimran Kaur, legal director for the coalition. The beard and the turban, which are part of the Sikh articles of faith, conjure misperceptions among many people, Kaur said.

    "People mistake it with being affiliated with al-Qaida and the Taliban," she said.

    Kaur said state and federal employment laws say that employers should accommodate workers' religious practices unless doing so would bring undue hardship.

    Kaur said her organization attempted to address Kherha's situation with the dealership, to no avail.

    She said Kherha is working for a law firm, conducting research while he pursues a graduate degree in business.

    A press release about the coalition's lawsuit included a statement by Kherha that said: "I am taking a stand against not only Tri-County Lexus, but all employers who discriminate against qualified applicants. I don't want any other Sikh to be told they are well-educated and well-qualified, but not hired because of their faith."

    Both the EEOC and coalition lawsuits seek back pay, as well as compensation for pain, suffering and humiliation in amounts to be determined at trial.

    Staff Writer Jennifer H. Cunningham contributed to this article.

    http://www.northjersey.com/news/state/104196834_EEOC_files_bias_suit_against_auto_dealership.html
     
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  3. BazGrewal

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    Wow he seemed to be the best candidate for the job.
     
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Mr. Kehra and Mr. Burroughs (of the Auto Zone lawsuit) are quietly joining the ranks of modern day heroes in the US sangat. Stung by prejudice, nonetheless, they are steady in their pursuit and do not waiver on the front lines. They bravely are seeking to walk the path of due process of law, have gained the support of the EEOC which is critical to eventual success in the courts, have the backing of Sikh advocacy organizations. They are going about this in an intelligent way. In time, however slowly it goes, they are building a foundation for full recognition of Sikhs and Sikhi in the US. My heart beats proud for them.
     
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