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US Sikh with beard gets $50,000 for job denial

New Jersey, Nov 20 (IANS) An Indian-American Sikh man, who was denied a job for keeping a beard by a car dealership in New Jersey five years ago, will receive $50,000 as compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

Gurpreet Singh Kherha, a resident of Little Falls, New Jersey, who had applied for a sales position at Tri-County Lexus in February 2008, was told by the hiring manager that although he was well-qualified, he could not be hired because of the dealership’s strict “no beard” policy.

Kherha then took his case to the Sikh Coalition, a community organisation, which filed a discrimination claim along with the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in November 2008, and a lawsuit was filed in New Jersey State Court in February 2010.

The terms of the settlement with the Sikh Coalition and EEOC over alleged hiring malpractices also requires Tri-County Lexus dealership to enter into a two-year remedial programme.

The programme includes revising its written policies and procedures prohibiting employment discrimination and providing ongoing training to all staff on anti-discrimination laws, with a focus on religious discrimination and religious accommodation laws.

The dealership will also be required to ensure that a copy of its revised policies is provided to any applicant who requests a religious accommodation during the hiring or interviewing process.

The EEOC will monitor and ensure the dealership’s compliance with the terms of the court-ordered consent decree.

“As this settlement demonstrates, Sikh Americans have a right to live, work, and thrive in the US, just like anyone else,” said Gurjot Kaur, staff attorney at the Sikh Coalition.

“We will continue to stand up against employers who fail to understand their legal obligations to provide religious accommodations and keep Sikhs and other religious minorities out of the workplace,” she said.

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