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USA Sikh Family Claims Discrimination Kept Them Off Go-Kart Tracks in California

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Livermore: Sikh family claims discrimination kept them off go-kart tracks
    By Rick Hurd

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/my-...kh-family-claims-discrimination-kept-them-off

    LIVERMORE -- An Alameda family that practices the Sikh faith claims they were the targets of discrimination by a popular Livermore go-kart track last month and is contemplating a lawsuit after saying they were denied a chance to participate because of their head attire.

    The company that owns Boomer's, the Livermore fun center that includes the go-kart track, said that they are motivated by safety and nothing more.

    Attorney Manmeet Singh said four cousins from the Singh family, no relation, bought tickets to ride the go-karts on July 28 and waited in line for several minutes. When it was their turn to ride, they were told that their patkas, the turbans central to the Sikh faith, weren't allowed.

    "Men are supposed to wear them at all times," Singh said. "There was no policy stating any such thing on the premises where they were. There were posted signs, but nothing about turbans.

    "And considering how it was handled by the staff there, we feel that this was a blatant case of racism."

    Michele Wischmeyer, the vice president of marketing for Palace Entertainment, Boomer's parent company, said that all of its go-kart tracks have a uniform policy preventing patrons from wearing anything on their heads. She said previous catastrophes at go-kart tracks around the country were caused primarily by loose clothing, long hair, and headgear getting caught in the engine and other equipment.

    "We've had a safety policy in place for quite some time at all our parks that prohibits hats, baseball caps, Yarmulkes," Wischmeyer said. "It has nothing to do with a discrimination policy and everything to do with a safety policy."

    "The patkas are extremely tight," Singh said. "As part of the faith, they are so tight that they cannot fall off. They don't move."

    Singh is a representative of United Sikhs, an international advocacy group that has started an online petition to try to have the company change the policy. He said the family received its money back, but that Boomer's employees argued with them and used subtle racial slurs.

    "This is a family that was born and raised in this country," Singh said. "They deserved better than to be treated the way they were treated."

    "If they were treated poorly, then I would agree that wasn't right," Wischmeyer said. "But again, the reason they were refused the ride was because of safety and nothing else."
     
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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  4. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
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    Would they have been permitted on without the patkas? :grinningsingh: It seems that loose long hair would be a much bigger safety hazard. And what about girls with long hair, :grinningkudi: whether Sikh or not? This is a silly policy.:mundafacepalm:
     
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  5. akiva

    akiva Israel
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    Long loose hair is also forbidden.

    Their sole concern is safety -- and not directed against ANY group. Since their business depends on that safety record, you can't fault them for the policy. (Since THEY would be liable if anything happened)
     
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  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    This would probably play out in a court as follows, of course one can't be 100 percent certain all the relevant facts are in the story.

    If the policy has been established and is accessible, and it is not directed against any particular group, then the Sikh family would not prevail in civil court.

    If they believe the policy per se is discriminatory and should be struck down, they can take that claim to federal court as a matter of freedom of religious expression. Even if no particular group is targeted, the court would want to consider whether religious freedoms are limited by the policy.

    Because the Go-kart park is privately owned, not a government establishment, it would be harder to have the policy reversed, but not impossible. And sometimes public opinion can carry more weight in cases like this. This story is very similar to the story of the family turned out of the movie theater because mother and father were wearing a kirpan.

    This is an interesting story because it is not as clear-cut as some other claims of discrimination might be.
     
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  7. akiva

    akiva Israel
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    spnadmin ji

    The difference between this case and the kirpan case is the issue of safety and liability.

    And SHOULD the policy be reversed? Is it right to demand that someone else be responsible for my actions? (i.e. I'll wear a turban -- but if something happens to me YOU'LL be liable)
     
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  8. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
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    Hmmm I read this whole thing and something struck me oddly... why can't people wear a patka and a helmet over top? The helmets are secured with a chin strap like a motorcycle helmet (and are in most cases actual motorcycle helmets!), so they WONT come off and are more safe than nothing at all! And a patka could fit under a helmet... maybe not the most comfortable but men in the military have to do that to wear combat helmets and they get by!

    Nowhere in this story did it even mention if they are wearing helmets at all!
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    akiva ji



    Common sense suggests - perhaps - that the safety issue is not the same in these two cases. However, both the policy of the movie theater and the policy of the Go-kart Park are based on their "definition" of safety as they see it. That is where the similarity lies, and in each case an article of faith is involved.

    So it would be a question for the courts to decide whether safety is at issue in either case. Does safety outweigh religious expression? Does an individual's religious expression pose liability issues for someone else?

    And yes you are correct, the turban poses a liability issue, in the eyes of the park owners, or they would not have posted a policy to begin with. However, we can't offer a legal opinion; we can only express our personal opinions. This question of kirpan safety has come up again and again in courts of law here in the US and each case is decided on the facts before the court.
     
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  10. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Quite within the boundaries of the dilemma for the civil court, you are suggesting an accommodation. And that is exactly how this case may end. The liability can be reduced by mutually agreeing to an accommodation.

    Wearing a kirpan in schools in the US, or being able to wear a kirpan on domestic and international flights from the US, all settled by arriving at a mutually acceptable accommodation. So yes there may be a middle ground when looking at the turban.
     
  11. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
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    Spnadmin Ji,

    not so much an accomodation as I was wondering why they aren't wearing helmets to begin with! Especially if they are worried about safety! The go-karts here are all by law forced to provide helmets (we have both an outdoor track and an indoor one) and everyone must wear them no exceptions.

    For this case though, I can see maybe no turban, but I know plenty of turban wearing sikhs who for sports wear a patka anyway... so it would be accomodation on both sides... allow sikhs to wear patkas, and the sikhs would agree to wear a helmet over top to make sure it was secure and would never come off. (though I think everyone should be wearing helmets anyway - I volunteer as a medical responder and there is a story from our division where a 12 year old boy flipped his go-kart racing, and died on scene... even with a helmet. Most recreational go-karts never race or reach those speeds but a helmet is just common sense anyway because accidents do happen.
     
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  12. akiva

    akiva Israel
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    Akasha Ji

    Agreed -- I assumed they supplied helmets (I've never seen a go-kart track here or in the US that didn't require them).
     
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  13. spnadmin

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    Go-kart company which asked 4 Sikh boys to remove turbans remains firm on policy

    IP Singh


    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...ains-firm-on-policy/articleshow/22022265.cms?
    JALANDHAR: Maintaining that it was its uniform policy not to allow any type of head wear to ensure safety, California-based Family Entertainment Center (FEC), Boomers, which asked four Sikh boys to remove their turbans for go-karting last week, has expressed its firmness to continue with the norms and policy - to maintain safety for all and to avoid having any type of discriminatory policy.

    In his response to the representation sent by North American Punjabi Association (NAPA), which had taken up the matter with the company, Gregg Borman, senior vice-president, FEC division has held that even while they acknowledged that a turban properly tied would secure long hair, the turban could still loosen and unravel thus becoming a separate safety hazard with choking or even decapitation a possibility.

    NAPA executive director Satnam Singh Chahal while sending the letter to Borman had said that the turban was an inseparable part of the Sikh identity. "Understandably, you have a policy where it is considered unsafe to ride a go kart with long open hair. We are surprised at the unofficial paper presented to the family which states that a turban is not allowed either. On the contrary, the turban is not loose or hanging, but is securely tied on the head thus supporting your policy of tying and keeping secure long open hair," he had argued.

    However Borman held "our safety rules cover all head wear, loose clothing and long hair. They are not discriminatory, as they apply to everyone and are designated as safety rules".

    "We have taken a position that no head wear is permitted because that's is safest for all and it simultaneously avoids having any type of discriminatory policy," he added.

    While also sending a list of links about the accidents have happened while go-karting with head-wear Borman held "offending any of our guests is not our intent; keeping our guests and team members' safe is our highest priority even before profits". However the incidents mentioned by the company include a hijab or head scarf which led to the accident.

    "We hope the majority of our Sikh guests will understand why we have the safety rules in place and respect that we must treat all guests equally when applying these safety rules. It is all about safety, with a policy equally applicable to all," he said.
     
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  14. Tejwant Singh

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    Akiva ji,

    FYI, all have to sign waivers with or without the turban for any unforeseen accidents at the Go- Kart tracks. So, your claim is untrue.

    The good thing about Las Vegas is that no one questions about your turban if you decide to go kart with it and without the helmet. I have done it many times. Perhaps, the reason is that it being a tourist city and people come from all different states and countries where the laws are different. But they do supply helmets the same way as the bowling alleys supply shoes.

    Tejwant SIngh
     
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  15. Tejwant Singh

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    Akasha ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Most of the helmets do not fit on the patka because of the joora on the top. Yes, if one has a bun at the back and wears a bandana then, a helmet can fit. I used to do that in Brasil while riding my motorbikes on the motorways(freeways) but wore my turban in the city streets because of slow speed.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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