Community, Headline

Medical firm sued for denying religious accommodation to Sikh employee

A Sikh paramedic was dismissed in 2020 after he requested PPE to accommodate his turban and beard

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a nationwide lawsuit in response to multiple acts of discriminatory behavior by the companies. Recently a medical firm fired a Sikh employee after denying him religious accommodation on a complaint by the Sikh Coalition.

The lawsuit against Global Medical Response (GMR), American Medical Response (AMR), and AMR’s subsidiaries, alleges wrongful termination of Ravinder Singh, a Sikh paramedic after he was denied personal protective equipment (PPE) to accommodate his Sikh articles of faith.

Read: ACLU asks US to stop confiscating turbans of Sikh asylum seekers (August 5, 2022)

In November 2020, Singh was dismissed from AMR after he requested PPE that would accommodate his turban and beard despite the fact that Singh satisfied his training requirements, and was hired after providing documentation about the Sikh articles of faith, the lawsuit claims.

Denying his sincere need for an accommodation, AMR still insisted upon Singh using an N95 mask as opposed to any other kind of PPE. Ultimately, Singh was dismissed from his position in violation of his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization first filed a discrimination complaint on Singh’s behalf with the EEOC. After an initial investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to conclude religious discrimination by GMR and AMR in this case and other similar cases across the nation, according to a coalition press release.

They also found a reasonable cause to conclude disability discrimination by GMR and AMR against paramedics who require PAPRs and other such PPE.

“In the early days of the pandemic, when I was training with AMR, I was eager to use my medical and emergency preparedness knowledge to help others,” said Singh.

Read: Sikh Marine wants to keep beard and turban without restrictions (September 28, 2021)

“It was extremely difficult to be turned away from that urgent work because of my faith — but now, I am able to be of service with appropriate and effective PPE in my new position,” he said.

“Ultimately, I’m supporting this legal action because no qualified professional should ever be forced to sit at home when they could be out saving lives.”

“Like every other employer in the United States, AMR has a simple and clear obligation to keep its employees safe while they perform their jobs,” added Giselle Klapper, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney.

“We know that paramedics like Singh are capable of performing their work with a PAPR, and that AMR is capable of providing such equipment. Why any company would turn away a qualified paramedic and violate their civil rights in the middle of a global pandemic is beyond comprehension,” he asked.

Read: Sikh Marine captain, poolees file federal lawsuit alleging discrimination (April 19, 2022)

“No one should be subjected to discrimination in the workplace because of their religious faith,” said Buckley Beal Managing Partner Ed Buckley, who is co-counsel on the case with Buckley Beal attorney Andrew Tate. “We want people of all faiths to know that they have the right to be treated fairly and equally in the workplace.”

The Sikh Coalition said it expects thievcase to move forward in the US District Court for the District of Colorado in the weeks ahead.

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