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Sikh Coalition Headline: Coalition Files Lawsuit Against Lexus Dealership For Refusing To Hire Sikh


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Headline: Coalition Files Lawsuit against Lexus Dealership for Refusing to Hire Sikh

(New Jersey) February 26, 2010 - A Sikh filed a discrimination lawsuit today after being told to remove his religiously-mandated beard if he wanted a job. The applicant, Gurpreet Singh Kherha, filed his lawsuit in New Jersey against Tri-County Lexus where he wanted to work as a sales representative.

"Well-educated" and "Well-qualified" but not Hired
In 2008, Gurpreet was recruited for a sales position at Tri-County Lexus in Little Falls, New Jersey. After completing two days of training at Lexus, Gurpreet participated in a final group interview with a Tri-County Lexus manager.

After the interview ended, a recruiter approached Gurpreet to ask if his beard is a religious requirement. Gurpreet explained that he is a practicing Sikh who does not cut his hair, including his facial hair. The recruiter then asked Gurpreet if he would be willing to remove his beard in order to obtain a job as a Tri-County Lexus sales representative. Gurpreet replied he would not.

The recruiter then informed Gurpreet he had not been selected for a sales position at Tri-County Lexus.

The recruiter told Gurpreet that Tri-County Lexus' manager stated he was "exactly what they were looking for"; "well-qualified" and "well-educated" but that the company has a corporate policy prohibiting salespersons from maintaining facial hair. The recruiter also stated that Tri-County's manager had contacted the corporate headquarters to request an accommodation for Gurpreet's religious practices, but had been rejected.

The Coalition Challenges Lexus
The Coalition has represented Gurpreet since April 2008. The Coalition engaged attorney Ravinder Singh Bhalla, an experienced New Jersey litigator, to work jointly on the case. Since then, the legal team has:

* Been in direct contact with attorneys for Tri-County Lexus, which denies any wrong-doing.
* Filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The legal team has met with the EEOC and is cooperating with the agency's ongoing investigation of the case.
* Filed a lawsuit in New Jersey state court to vindicate Gurpreet's rights.

"Tri-County Lexus forced a Sikh to choose between his religion and employment," said Ravinder S. Bhalla. "Now they will have to answer for their discrimination in court."

The Coalition is zealously advocating for Mr. Kherha, and is pursuing both state and federal employment discrimination claims against Tri-County Lexus. As always, the Sikh Coalition calls on all Sikhs to stand up for their rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.
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