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Sikh News Sikh student says Thirsty Turtle discriminated against his Religion

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Sikh News Reporter, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. Sikh News Reporter

    Sikh News Reporter United States
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    SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Sep 20, 2004
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    A Sikh graduate student says Thirsty Turtle denied him service two weeks ago because of the turban that he's religiously obligated to wear.

    Ramik Chopra, 26, a master's of business administration student who lives in College Park, wears his turban to work, formal occasions and around the house, but when he showed up at Thirsty Turtle on July 31, he said he was told he couldn't wear it inside the bar.

    Chopra said a bouncer appeared to confuse the black turban he was wearing that night with a do-rag and told him the turban violated the bar's dress code.

    Chopra said even after he tried to clear up the misunderstanding, the bouncer wouldn't relent: He wouldn't take Chopra's ID, and he wouldn't let Chopra speak with a manager.

    "It was really degrading," Chopra said. "I can understand if a person does not know something and he reacts a certain way; I've done that, too. But I'm open to listening and trying to understand other people and changing my opinion. This guy refused to budge."

    Kevin Hornberger, a university graduate who was with Chopra that night, confirmed his account.

    "I was just sitting there in disbelief," Hornberger said. "It's the 21st century."

    Alan Wanuck, owner of Thirsty Turtle, did not return multiple phone calls.
    Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prevents public establishments such as Thirsty Turtle from discriminating on the grounds of "race, color, religion or national origin."

    In a case similar to Chopra's, the U.S. Justice Department concluded in September 2001 that a Hard Times Cafe in Springfield, Va., could not apply a no-do-rag rule to a turban-wearing Sikh man.

    "I can't comment on a case when I don't know all the facts, but in general the law says you can't do that," said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, legal and policy director for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

    But Chopra said it never occurred to him to bring charges against Thirsty Turtle.

    He and Hornberger left Thirsty Turtle, ate dinner at Ratsie's and spent the rest of the night at R.J. Bentley's. He said Bentley's bouncer didn't ask him any questions.

    "We were upset for the first hour, and we just had a few drinks, and I was fine," Chopra said.
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