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SALDEF Stand-Up For Religious Diversity In The Workplace; End Discriminatory Treatment Of Sikh American Par


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
(Washington D.C., 5/26/2011) - Since 2008, Sahaj Singh Khalsa, a Sikh American paramedic from New Mexico, has been discriminated against by his employer because of his mandated religious identity. Mr. Khalsa has endured disparaging remarks and threats, and, in one incident, was even physically assaulted. SALDEF urges community members to call upon the hospital to accept religious diversity.

TAKE ACTION: Contact hospital urging accommodation and acceptance of religious diversity in their workplace

Mr. Khalsa was employed by Presbyterian Health Services (PHS) as a Paramedic and Field Operations Supervisor for nine years from 2001 to 2010. Beginning in 2008, the working environment at Española Hospital became progressively hostile to Mr. Khalsa and other Sikh American employees. When Mr. Khalsa reported this discrimination to the hospital human resource office, they acknowledged the hostile work environment, but failed to discipline those responsible. Instead of supporting Mr. Khalsa, the hospital administration targeted him by suddenly implementing a "no-beards" policy in retaliation for his complaints, telling Mr. Khalsa he must either shave or lose his job.

READ MORE: Defender of the Faith (Santa Fe Reporter)

Mr. Khalsa proposed a reasonable compromise, offering to wear a larger respirator that would cover his facial hair while he administered aid, but this accommodation was refused without justification. Hospital administration reportedly continued this pattern of discrimination and retaliation. Having exhausted every reasonable option, Mr. Khalsa was forced to resign in December 2010. On May 11, 2011, The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico http://aclu-nm.org/aclu-nm-charges-...iscrimination-against-sikh-paramedic/2011/05/

filed charges with the New Mexico Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Española Hospital and PHS.

READ MORE: Sikh American Paramedic Sues Hospital for Discrimination

"Presbyterian management's behavior is unacceptable and un-American. We cannot stand for the systematic removal of all Sikh Americans, or any other minorities, who work for them. I am very appreciative of the support the community has shown to my family and me over the past few weeks. It will be a long road, but the support of the community is a source of strength to me," stated Mr. Khalsa.

TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION: Show solidarity with Mr. Khalsa now and convey your outrage over workplace discrimination and ask for religious accommodation. In addition to writing a letter, forward this to friends and family.


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