1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
The newly elected California Governor and the Attorney General are opposing the civil and economic rights of Sikh-Americans to work as prison officers in the state, a rights groups has alleged.

"The State's decision to not just tolerate but to support this violation of civil rights is troubling. If Sikh Americans can serve their country in the US Army, then there is no reason that Mr. (Trilochan Singh ) Oberoi's case places an undue burden on CDCR," said Veena Dubal, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus.

Correctional officers, also known as detention or prison officers when they work in pretrial detention facilities, are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a jail.

Rajdeep Singh of the Washington-based Sikh Coalition alleged that the newly sworn-in California Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris are backing CDCR, which has failed to comply with the SPB ruling.

In 2008 Oberoi, a Sikh American job applicant, won a religious discrimination case against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

The California State Personnel Board's Appeal Division (SPB) determined that Oberoi, who keeps a religiously-mandated beard, suffered unlawful workplace discrimination at the CDCR.

SPB determined that officials at CDCR failed to explore reasonable accommodations for Oberoi, as required by law, even though beard exemptions were allowed for individuals with medical needs, and despite the fact that Sikh Americans serve in the United States Army in compliance with safety requirements.

"Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris should stand on the side of civil rights," said Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition.

"When the California Governor and Attorney General support discrimination at a state agency, this empowers private employers to discriminate with impunity.

We call upon Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris to restore the rights of Mr. Oberoi and open the doors of equal opportunity to all who wish to work as public servants in California, regardless of religion," Singh said.


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