Protecting the Sikh ID: Georgia DDS Apologizes to Sikh American Father and Son over State ID IssueSALDEF to Work With DDS to Clarify Policy and Educate Staff Regarding Religious Accommodations
Washington D.C. - August 19, 2010: The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) recently apologized to a Sikh American man and his son for denying the younger Mr. Singh (individual declined to publicize identity) from taking his State ID photograph while wearing his religiously mandated dastaar (Sikh turban) at the Norcross Branch of the DDS. Even more concerning was that the elder Mr. Singh was told that in the future he would not be able to renew his driver's license with his dastaar on.
SALDEF contacted the DDS Commissioner to address the issue and clarify the policy. In their response to SALDEF, they stated, "The DDS apologizes if… [the] customer [was] unable to obtain a driver's license or identification card with a photograph of him wearing his dastaar." Additionally they commented that, "The DDS… recognizes the rights of Sikhs and members of other faiths to be photographed wearing headgear."
"We thank the Georgia DDS for their prompt attention to this matter," said SALDEF Associate Executive Director Jasjit Singh. "We look forward to continuing dialogue with them to ensure that incidents like this do not occur again and that guidelines are issued to clarify the ambiguities that exist in the current policy."
In a follow-up letter to the Georgia DDS, SALDEF requested that "…the current policy in the Official Code of Georgia be formally clarified to ensure that individuals who wear religious headwear which does not cover the face, such as the Sikh turban, are protected throughout the state."
Additionally SALDEF seeks to partner with Georgia DDS on providing cultural awareness training for staff and management of Department of Driver Services to proactively ensure the rights of Sikh-Americans are upheld.
If you believe you have been denied service or discriminated against due to your religious identity, please report it to SALDEF immediately at 202-393-2700 or via our Report an Incident form.