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Sikh Coalition Federal Government Charges That Sikh Coalition Client Harassed By Managers And Customers, Barred Fro


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Federal Government Charges that Sikh Coalition Client Harassed by Managers and Customers, Barred From Wearing Turban, Then Fired

(Boston, MA) September 29, 2010 - The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against AutoZone, Inc.
a national automobile parts store, for discriminating against a Sikh employee.

The Sikh Coalition filed a discrimination complaint on behalf of the Sikh employee --- Frank Mahoney Burroughs ---- which led to the government's lawsuit. The Coalition will continue to represent the employee in the federal lawsuit. The EEOC lawsuit states that AutoZone violated federal law by verbally insulting and humiliating the employee after adopted Sikhism, by refusing to let him wear a turban, and by firing him after he complained about the discrimination. For example, a manager asked Mahoney Burroughs if he was a terrorist and had joined Al-Qaeda and whether he intended to blow up the store. In addition, AutoZone failed to intervene when customers referred to Mahoney Burroughs as "Bin Laden" and made terrorist jokes. This lawsuit makes clear that the federal government is taking employment discrimination against the Sikh community seriously. The government only files lawsuits in less than half of one percent of all cases brought to its attention. "We are thankful for the EEOC's lawsuit," said Sandeep Kaur, staff attorney, Sikh Coalition. "I hope this lawsuit makes clear the Sikh community will not allow Sikhs to be harassed in the workplace. We will file complaints, partner with government agencies, and hold employers accountable in court when necessary. We will fight to ensure that Sikh Americans enjoy equal employment opportunity." Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., the director of the EEOC's New York District Office, which has jurisdiction over Massachusetts, said,

"Employers are obligated to accommodate the religious beliefs of employees unless the accommodation poses an undue hardship. The EEOC will continue to take swift action to protect employees from religious discrimination." The Sikh Coalition thanks the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in Boston [ ], in particular, Staff Attorney Laura Maslow-Armand, for their partnership in this case.

Case Timeline:
  • Winter 2009: Sikh employee contacts the Coalition in Winter of 2009 for assistance;
  • Winter 2009: Coalition staff met with client in person, agreed to represent him, and filed an amended complaint with the EEOC [ ] office in Boston;
  • Spring 2010: Coalition attorneys vigorously advocated on Sikh's behalf during five month-long investigation of the case;
  • Spring 2010: Coalition partnered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in Boston [ ], a highly respected civil rights organization, to assist in fighting case;
  • Spring and Summer 2010*: EEOC conducted extensive investigation and found that AutoZone violated federal law;
  • Fall 2010: EEOC filed lawsuit against AutoZone [ ]

Protect Yourself from Religious Discrimination in the Workplace* As always, the Coalition calls on all Sikhs to stand up for their rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith. Information explaining your rights in the workplace


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