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Legal Empowerment

A project of Sikh Coalition
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The Sikh Coalition’s Legal Program defends and safeguards religious freedom. We provide essential legal services to victims of hate crimes, employment discrimination, public accommodations discrimination, profiling and other forms of discrimination. Our scrappy legal team has developed expertise in vindicating the rights of Sikhs whose civil rights have been violated. Our attorneys are routinely asked to speak on this subject by entities like the American Bar Association, and and have litigated with the ACLU, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. We provide assistance 100% free of charge and many times to individuals who would not likely have access to legal services without the Sikh Coalition.

Since the organization's inception, the Sikh Coalition has taken on or provided referrals for over 2,000 matters.The Sikh Coalition averages 20 requests for legal assistance each month. By comparison, most legal boutiques similar in size will take on half that at a given time. These requests range from hate crimes to employment discrimination cases, to domestic violence, to immigration issues. Many of these requests also come from clients who speak only or prefer Punjabi and therefore we provide Punjabi legal consults and representation.

The moment an issue reaches our legal team, an initial phone or in-person consultation is scheduled to learn the facts and discuss the matter with the prospective client. These initial consultations can last anywhere from 1-3 hours. Following the conversation, the legal team invests several hours in collecting documents, researching federal and state laws, fact-finding and determining the best next steps for the prospective client.

The legal team typically spends on average between 5-20 hours on each matter brought forward by a prospective client. For cases we cannot take on, this includes educating community members on the law and their rights, researching referrals and explaining their options. For matters we can take on, the legal team devotes even more resources to provide the highest quality of legal service at absolutely no charge to the client. Many of these cases take at least several months to close, but some turn into multi-year federal civil rights lawsuits. 

Due to COVID-19 we saw an uptick in cases related to Sikh health care professionals, with facial hair, and whether certain personal protective equipment (PPE) provided. Some Sikh healthcare professionals were being potentially forced to choose between their religion and their jobs. We have represented several medical students, residents and professionals in obtaining religious accommodations for PPE however we are unable to go public with most cases. Some of these cases require intense attention because the medical school students or residents involved did not have as much influence at their respective institutions to secure limited and expensive PAPRS/CAPRS.

  • 09/12/2022

    2+ Weeks Till Virtual CLE Conference

    On September 30th, the Sikh Coalition’s annual virtual legal conference, Realizing Justice For All, will bring together attorneys and law students from across the country to learn about the core civil rights issues facing Sikhs and other minority groups since 9/11.

    Last chance to register! Click here to reserve your spot now.

    Hosted in partnership with law firms Winston & Strawn, LLP and Weil, Gotshal, & Manges LLP, this virtual conference will provide legal professionals and students the opportunity to connect and acquire 3.0 CLE General or Elimination of Bias credits (depending on your state).

    In addition to remarks by special guest speakers Janai Nelson (President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund) and Paul Grewal (Chief Legal Officer of Coinbase and retired ​​U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge), the conference will feature discussions with community leaders, activists, and national experts on topics including:

    • From Palo Alto to Punjab: Free Speech in the Age of Disinformation and Censorship, and Holding Social Media Platforms Accountable;
    • The Miseducation of CRT: What it Is and What it Isn’t; and,
    • Past, Present, Future: The Battle For Voting Rights

    We also look forward to recognizing the Stanford University Law School Religious Liberty Clinic as the recipient of the 2022 Pro Bono Sevadar of the Year award! In Punjabi, a Sevadar is an individual who volunteers their time, resources, and services for the betterment of the entire community. The Stanford University Law School Religious Liberty Clinic will be recognized for its commitment to fighting for civil rights protections for all.

    Registration Information: Registrants are encouraged to attend for the full day. Registration for this virtual conference includes 3.0 CLE credits and is $100 for private attorneys, $50 for public interest and government attorneys, and free for current law students. Sponsorship opportunities are also available! Email legalconference@sikhcoalition.org for more information if you require financial assistance.

    If you are an attorney or law student who is interested in attending the conference on September 30th, click here to register.

    We are grateful to our sponsors--Winston & Strawn LLP; Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP; WilmerHale; Robins Kaplan LLP; the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA), and the SABA Foundation--for their support!

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 07/11/2022

    Virtual Conference on 9/30 for Legal Professionals

    The Sikh Coalition is excited to host our annual virtual legal conference, Realizing Justice For All, on September 30, 2022.

    Hosted in partnership with law firms Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal, & Manges LLP, this conference offers an opportunity for lawyers and law students to gain CLE accreditation while learning about the core civil rights issues facing Sikhs and other minority groups in the United States. Legal professionals who attend the conference will acquire 3.0 CLE General or Elimination of Bias credits (depending on your state).

    Registration is now open: Click here to reserve your spot!

    This year, the conference will feature special guest speakers Janai Nelson (President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund) and Paul Grewal (Chief Legal Officer of Coinbase and retired ​​U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge). In addition, we look forward to recognizing the Stanford University Law School Religious Liberty Clinic as the recipient of the Pro Bono Sevadar of the Year award!

    We hope to see you at this year’s conference as we explore new topics in law and justice. The all-day conference will feature robust critical discussions by some of our nation’s leading experts on issues including:

    From Palo Alto to Punjab: Free Speech in the Age of Disinformation and Holding Social Media Platforms Accountable; 
    The Miseducation of CRT: What it Is and What it Isn’t; and
    Past, Present, Future: The Battle For Voting Rights

    If you know an attorney or law student who should attend on September 30th, forward them this registration information.

    Registrants are encouraged to attend for the full day. Registration includes CLE certifications and is $100 for private attorneys, $50 for public interest and government attorneys, and free for current law students. Scholarships are provided on an individual basis, and sponsorship opportunities are still available--email our team at legalconference@sikhcoalition.org to learn more about both opportunities.

    As a reminder, last year’s conference featured conversations with leading attorneys and civil rights experts on topics including addressing issues of discrimination with an intersectional lens, understanding immigration challenges and representing clients seeking asylum, and whether the justice system adequately addresses bias crimes in a way that is in fact just.

     As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 05/10/2022

    Join California Sikh Man in Fight for Justice

    May 10, 2022 (Sutter, CA) -- Almost one year ago, Rouble Paul Claire, a first generation Sikh American and father, was threatened with a racial slur and vehicular violence at a local store and then, in a second separate but related incident hours later, subjected to more racial slurs and hateful graffiti at his home. Mr. Claire immediately notified the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), but after months of delay and inaction, he retained the Sikh Coalition for free legal help in October of 2021.

    The SCSO ultimately recommended bringing charges against the offender. However, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office (SCDAO) refuses to prosecute the case. After giving the SCDAO every chance to do their job and bring the appropriate charges, the Sikh Coalition urges you to join us in helping bring justice for Mr. Claire before it’s too late. 

    TAKE ACTION and send a letter to the SCDAO calling for justice for Mr. Claire NOW. The statutory deadline for the SCDAO to bring charges is this Wednesday, May 11. Once you’ve taken action, be sure to forward to your friends and family and ask them to speak out, too!

    Simultaneously, Mr. Claire has filed a civil suit against officers of the SCSO, Sutter County, and the individual who threatened him. Through the Sikh Coalition legal referral system, attorneys Gina Szeto-Wong, Principal Attorney of Szeto-Wong Law, and Sean Tamura-Sato, Managing Partner of Minami Tamaki LLP, are representing Mr. Claire in the civil case.

    On May 11, 2021, Mr. Claire was accosted by a woman in his neighborhood at a local grocery store. The woman shouted and cursed at Mr. Claire--including by calling him a “f*cking Hindu”--threatened to “ram” him with her car, and then got in her car and sped towards him in a parking lot, only swerving away at the last moment. Later that day, another woman connected to the assailant in the first incident wrote the word “sandn*gger” in chalk on the sidewalk outside Mr. Claire’s house and in his driveway, and called him “n*gger” when he went outside.

    “I have been subject to threats, harassment, and racial slurs--yet almost a full year later, no one has been held accountable,” said Mr. Claire. “For months after immediately reporting these hateful acts, I sat in silence waiting for action that never came. I did not want to have to take legal action against anyone, but I believe that this failure of justice is unacceptable: No one in our community should have to face this kind of hate and bigotry.”

    Despite repeatedly appealing to the SCSO for help, Mr. Claire received little aid. One deputy who responded to the chalking incident used his own water bottle in an attempt to wash away the evidence before taking photos for the office; another advised him not to drive on his own street to avoid any confrontation. For months, Mr. Claire’s requests for action, charges, or even a police report documenting the incidents suffered delays or were completely ignored. When the Sikh Coalition engaged the SCSO, the investigation essentially began anew. The SCSO finally recommended charges against the woman who threatened Mr. Claire at the grocery store--but the SCDAO declined to bring those charges because of the time that had passed.

    “No one deserves to feel threatened in their own community, and law enforcement--both police and prosecutors--simply must do better,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre (she/her), Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “Tragically, we have seen time and again that hateful interactions can lead to violent results; the case of Khalid Jabara, killed in Oklahoma in 2016 after months of verbal, bias-based harassment from a neighbor, comes to mind. The large Sikh population in this area is only more reason to ensure that all members of this community feel safe and secure.”

    The Sikh Coalition is calling on the SCDAO to bring charges of Criminal Threats, Assault, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and any other appropriate charges against the woman who initially threatened Mr. Claire with her car. We also remain extremely concerned about the complete inaction of local law enforcement in response to the racial slurs and graffiti on and around Mr. Claire’s property--and broader allegations of a pattern of inaction by the SCDAO in cases targeting members of marginalized communities. You can support this effort to pursue justice for Mr. Claire NOW by taking just a moment to send an email to the SCDAO with our online tool.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 01/14/2022

    Update on NYC Taxi Driver Attack

    On January 14, 2022, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) confirmed that last night, Mohamed Hassanain was arrested for the January 3 attack on a Sikh taxi driver (identified only as “Mr. Singh” to preserve his anonymity) at JFK airport. The incident is being considered a hate crime, given that Hassanain shouted “go back to your country” and called the driver “turbaned people” in a derogatory manner while repeatedly punching and shoving him.

    The driver, Mr. Singh, is still respectfully requesting to remain anonymous, so the Sikh Coalition is still not sharing his name, his photograph, or video footage of the attack itself.

    “We are grateful to the Port Authority Police Department and Queens District Attorney's Office for their prompt action on this case, and for recognizing that the attack on Mr. Singh included clear anti-Sikh bias,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director (she/her). “This case underscores the importance of sharing all of the details of these kinds of attacks with law enforcement. Holding perpetrators accountable for both their actions and their hateful motivations is the clearest way to show that bigotry, and the violence that it fuels, have no place in our communities.”

    Mr. Singh gave the following statement to the Sikh Coalition to share with reporters and the wider community: “I am thankful to law enforcement, the Sikh Coalition, and all those in the community who have offered their strength in this difficult time. No one should experience what I did--but if they do, I hope they receive the same overwhelming amount of support and quick, professional action by the authorities in response.”

    Hassanain is being charged with Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, Assault in the Third Degree, and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, and will be arraigned on Saturday, January 15. In the meantime, the Sikh Coalition will continue to stay engaged on this case. As we did in the aftermath of the attack, we will continue to assist Mr. Singh in his correspondence with law enforcement and ensure that all relevant details are conveyed between all parties. Additionally, we are grateful for the support of the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force in this case.

    In the Sikh Coalition’s experience, taxi and rideshare drivers from our community are at a heightened risk of hateful assault. In recent years, we have provided free legal aid to multiple Sikh drivers like Mr. Singh who were attacked in various places across the country. Accordingly, we continue to provide know-your-rights resources proactively to help the community stay safe. If you or someone you know has experienced bigotry--violent or otherwise--be sure to contact our legal team for free help.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 01/05/2022

    Kirpan Case Leads to Trainings

    In December 2021, the Sikh Coalition successfully followed through on the resolution of a kirpan-related legal intake, including by securing an individual accommodation for our client, as well as hosting a training that reached more than 100 employees in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

    In May of 2021, Simranveer Kaur was carrying her kirpan when she attempted to use public transportation in the city of Cleveland. The driver of the bus that she boarded told her she couldn’t have a knife on the bus, but Simranveer explained that the kirpan was a Sikh article of faith and that asking her to remove it was a violation of her First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the driver insisted that he would call the police if she did not exit the bus or give up her kirpan.

    “My experience shows how critical it is to know your religious rights--even when others would deny them,” said Simranveer. “When I stepped off the bus that day, I won’t deny that I was extremely frustrated. But I turned my energy to leveraging the Sikh Coalition’s free legal aid to ensure that nothing like this ever happens to another Sikh in my city.”

    After speaking with Simranveer, our legal team sent a letter to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) detailing the incident and asking for follow-up action. In return, the GCRTA offered a full apology to Simranveer, sent an immediate bulletin to their staff about kirpans, and worked to arrange trainings with the Sikh Coalition. Last month, GCRTA hosted Sikh Coalition staff for two full days of Sikh awareness trainings for their bus operators, staff trainers, service supervisors, and security personnel. All told, the trainings reached more than 100 employees; moreover, the GCRTA has also committed to including Sikh awareness training as part of their onboarding process for every new hire moving forward.

    “Sikhs, like all Americans, have a right to the free expression of their religion--and that includes maintaining articles of faith like the kirpan,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Legal Client Manager Aasees Kaur, who delivered the trainings to GCRTA. “We were glad to engage the GCRTA and expect that these trainings will prevent similar incidents for Sikhs simply trying to go about their business in public like anyone else.”

    The Sikh Coalition continues to serve as the leading source of legal aid for Sikh community members who encounter kirpan issues at school, work, or in public settings. The vast majority of our kirpan-related cases are successfully resolved through accommodation requests handled privately--but as Simranveer’s case demonstrates, proper education and training is an essential step to helping non-Sikh audiences understand that kirpans are both non-threatening and protected religious expression. If you or someone you know has been prohibited from maintaining your kirpan, please reach out to our team for free legal aid.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 12/14/2021

    Fighting to Prove the Truth

    The work required to combat bias, bigotry, and hate is already hard enough--but worse is when law enforcement authorities and elected officials don’t see the problem for what it is.

    Last year, it took months for the Sikh Coalition to successfully demonstrate to a Colorado district attorney’s office that Lakhwant Singh, who was told to ‘go back to your country’ and hit with a car, had survived a hate crime. In Indianapolis this summer, the FBI and local police explicitly ruled out bias as a possible factor and instead labeled a mass shooter who murdered four Sikhs and injured others as merely mentally ill--providing no justification for their decision, and failing to recognize the complex, multi-faceted motivations involved in many hate crimes. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies across the United States continue to struggle with underreporting or misreporting hate crimes: the Sikh Coalition has recently held several meetings regarding the nation’s largest police department, the NYPD, to explore how they have not reported a single anti-Sikh hate crime since reporting came to fruition in 2015.

    Despite all of these challenges, we fight every day to explain and prove, over and over again, what our community’s lived experiences and all the available data already show: Sikhs are hundreds of times more likely to experience bias, discrimination, and hate than most Americans.

    Beyond the fact that it can be an uphill battle, this work also takes serious financial resources. Our team of fewer than 20 full-time staff spends thousands of hours every year on letters, calls, and other messages to elected officials; meetings with law enforcement to make sure clients are well-represented; conversations and interviews with journalists to ensure they know who Sikhs are and what we believe; and educational trainings for teachers, business-owners, and anyone else who can help raise Sikh awareness in their communities.

    We want to get to a world where the Sikh experience of resilience in the face of hate is accepted rather than argued over, but it’s going to take more to speed up that progress. Time and again, marginalized communities in the United States are told that our experiences with bigotry don’t meet the threshold of a hate crime, can’t be ‘proven’ as racism by the perpetrator, or are somehow our fault.

    Will you join the Sikh Coalition in fighting for our experiences to be recognized and taken seriously? Every dollar you donate in support of our end-of-year fundraising can go towards engaging our elected officials, public awareness and education work, or free legal support for those in need.

    With your support, we are going to be heard.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 10/15/2021

    Legal Project update

    The Sikh Coalition is so appreciative of the sangat's support of the  Sikh Coalition’s “Legal  Work” project. The investment has been so important in pushing this work forward. We wanted to share some updates from the last few months:

    Responding to Vandalism at Khalsa Gurmat Center
    On September 17, 2021, Khalsa Gurmat Center--a Sikh house of worship, school, and community center located in Federal Way, Washington--was vandalized and burglarized.

    The Center retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal assistance and liaise with relevant law enforcement agencies and elected officials as the investigation moves forward. At this time, law enforcement authorities are investigating all possible motives--including the possibility that bias could have been a factor. In addition, the Sikh Coalition has reached out to elected officials in Washington to ensure that they are aware of the investigation, and several media outlets, for the express purpose of helping law enforcement identify potential suspects. The Sikh Coalition will continue working directly with gurdwara leadership to prioritize safety and provide updates on the case as they become available.

    Advocating for Better PPE for Sikhs
    Last month, the Sikh Coalition submitted additional formal recommendations to revise federal masking policies, calling for the availability and legal enforcement of alternative kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn by Sikhs, religious minorities, and other individuals as necessary. Previously, in August, the Sikh Coalition provided policy recommendations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in response to the federal government’s publication of the Emergency Temporary Standard to limit the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Additionally, we submitted recommendations to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to highlight the needs and challenges in PPE for the Sikh community.

    100+ Legal Professionals Join Virtual CLE Conference
    On September 24, 2021, more than 100 legal professionals and law students joined the conversation on the core civil rights issues facing Sikhs and other minority groups since 9/11 during the Sikh Coalition’s first-ever virtual legal conference--Realizing Justice For All--hosted in partnership with law firms Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. During the conference, we were also privileged to honor our 2021 Pro Bono Sevadar Co-Counsel of the Year, Winston & Strawn LLP Partner and Sikh Coalition Legal Advisory Committee member Amandeep S. Sidhu.

     

    This is in addition to responding to 200+ legal intakes a year, filing joint amicus briefs, and our ongoing advocacy, education and community engagement work. As we continue to defend and safeguards religious freedom, we look forward to sharing more updates. 

  • 08/23/2021

    Virtual CLE Conference for Legal Professionals

    The Sikh Coalition invites you to join us for our first-ever virtual legal conference, Realizing Justice For All. As our organization approaches a milestone anniversary since our founding in September 2001, we are partnering with Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP to host this conference for lawyers and law students to gain CLE accreditation while learning about the core civil rights issues facing Sikhs in the last 20 years.

    The conference will take place on Friday, September 24, 2021, from 11 AM to 5 PM ET. Legal professionals and current law students will have the opportunity to acquire CLE accreditation in Elimination of Bias, Diversity, or Ethics depending on their state. In addition, we are excited to announce that Gurbir Grewal, Director of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will deliver the keynote address this year.

    Registration is Now Open: Click here to learn more and reserve your spot!

    Registrants are encouraged to attend this robust conference for the full day. Registration includes CLE certifications and is $100 for private attorneys, $50 for public interest and government attorneys, and free for current law students. Scholarships are available on an individual basis. There are also sponsorship opportunities available; email our Legal team at legal@sikhcoalition.org to learn more.

    During the conference, attendees will learn from community leaders, activists, and national experts on topics including: combating discrimination based on the intersectionality of race, religion, and caste; understanding immigration patterns and challenges; and addressing bias crimes. The conference will also include one hour of networking for attendees.

    If you know an attorney or law student who should attend on September 24th, please share this registration page with them.

    To our current and aspiring legal professionals, this conference is for you! We hope that you will join us for this full-day event to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the Sikh community and learn about broader social justice movements.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 05/24/2021

    Fighting for the Rights of Incarcerated Sikh Man

    On May 24, 2021, the Sikh Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona, the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief (PFRB), the ACLU National Prison Project (NPP), and the international law firm WilmerHale filed a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of Mr. Surjit Singh, who is currently serving a sentence at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR) in Tucson, AZ.

    Upon his incarceration in August of 2020, Mr. Singh’s turban was taken from him and his beard was forcibly shaved to comply with ADCRR rules. Though Mr. Singh cannot communicate in English and was not provided with an interpreter, he did protest both the removal of his turban and his shaving at the time. He then lodged informal verbal and written complaints, and the Sikh Coalition, ACLU PFRB, and ACLU-AZ later filed a formal written grievance on his behalf.

    Following this initial forced shaving, the ADCRR further threatened to shave Mr. Singh again due to their prohibition of inmate beard lengths longer than one inch. We and our allies were able to prevent a second shaving and secure an accommodation so that he will not be shaved in the future in any ADCRR facility. However, the ADCRR remains unwilling to discuss policy changes that would provide accommodations to other prisoners who maintain facial hair for religious reasons.

    “My faith remains deeply important to me, and incarcerated individuals have a right to our faith just like everyone else in this country,” said Mr. Singh, through a statement to his legal representatives. “I am simply asking that the Arizona Department of Corrections guarantee that me and others in my position are able to serve our sentences with dignity by respecting our religious beliefs.”

    The complaint asserts that Mr. Singh’s religious freedom was violated by the ADCRR, and it urges the DOJ to examine the ADCRR’s practices to ensure that other incarcerated persons are not subject to similar violations.

    “All people, including those who are currently serving sentences in the criminal justice system, have a constitutionally protected right to the free exercise of their religion,” said Cindy Nesbit, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney. “Arbitrary policies of the ADCRR must not be allowed to further violate Mr. Singh’s religious rights, or the rights of anyone else.”

    The Sikh Coalition is grateful to our partners at the ACLU-AZ, ACLU PFRB, ACLU NPP, and WilmerHale for joining us in this important case. Of note, we have successfully navigated similar cases on behalf of Sikh Americans before, including a 2011 lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and advocacy action in 2006 against the Florida Department of Corrections; local chapters of the ACLU were a valuable partner in both of those instances.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 05/11/2021

    Continuing to Push for Workplace Equality

    The Sikh Coalition continues fighting for the civil rights of Sikhs in the workplace, despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    On April 28, Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur testified before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at the Commission’s first all-virtual hearing. Over the course of her remarks, Kaur discussed civil rights challenges for the Sikh community brought on by the pandemic--including the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) accommodations for individuals who maintain kesh.

    “The Sikh community is not new to workplace discrimination, and the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to greater religion-based employment discrimination,” said Kaur during her testimony. “The role of the EEOC is to advance the public interest, protect the civil rights of employees who are subjected to discrimination, and ensure that all American workers have access to equal employment opportunity ... Consequently, we strongly urge the EEOC to acknowledge this harm which continues to grow as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to hold employers accountable whenever their actions or the failure to act are the cause of it.”

    Click here to read Kaur’s full written remarks, submitted to the EEOC in advance.

    Following the testimony, the Sikh Coalition was engaged by the EEOC and the Illinois Human Rights Commission to provide Title VII seminars and training specific to religious discrimination in the workplace, particularly those emerging during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to offer free training and presentations to organizations across the public and private sectors who need more information about how to respect the religious rights of their Sikh employees and patrons.

    The Sikh Coalition has been at the forefront of the fight to protect religious rights since the beginning of the pandemic. In March 2020, we released a memo with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association (NASMDA) offering guidance for healthcare professionals on how to proactively request and secure a religious accommodation for a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) or other suitable PPE. Then, in May, we again worked with NASMDA to produce a letter to fully inform healthcare professionals of their rights when it comes to articles of faith. In September, we worked with U.S.-based nonprofit Direct Relief to secure a donation of PAPRs for professionals in need and better publicize the legal issue that Sikhs were facing.

    If you or someone you know has been told by an employer to shave facial hair in response to COVID-19, please contact the Sikh Coalition’s legal team for free and confidential legal aid immediately. We can effectively walk you through the process of securing a religious accommodation with the goal of finding a quick resolution between you and your employer. For information about employee rights related to the pandemic in general, please review our Know Your Rights resource regarding the EEOC’s latest rules.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

  • 04/09/2021

    Sikh Awareness at Major Hospital System

    April 9, 2021 (Philadelphia, PA) -- Yesterday, Sikh Coalition Legal Client and Community Services Manager Aasees Kaur facilitated a virtual presentation on Sikhism in partnership with Jefferson Health. The interactive session covered the basics of the Sikh faith and community, and was attended by at least 50 Jefferson clinical health team members, including doctors, nurses, techs, med students, and others.

    Jefferson Health is a network of five hospitals in Philadelphia and New Jersey; with almost 1,000 licensed beds between them, the facilities also serve as teaching hospitals for Thomas Jefferson University. For the last two years, the Sikh Coalition has been working with the Jefferson Health team to provide information about the Sikh faith and community, as well as recommending best practices for respectfully engaging Sikh patients and visitors; this relationship-building work facilitated the training opportunity.

    Yesterday’s training follows another successful presentation, specifically for security personnel regarding the Sikh articles of faith, delivered by the Sikh Coalition’s legal team in August of 2020. Both trainings were recorded, and the footage will be made available to thousands of Jefferson employees at future orientations; additionally, the Sikh Coalition has been invited back to give this Sikh awareness training on an annual basis.

    “It is important for current and future medical professionals to understand the needs of diverse communities to provide a culturally competent environment of care,” said Kaur. “The Sikh Coalition continues to offer our training services to a wide range of public and private organizations to raise Sikh awareness across society and ensure that Sikhs are able to practice their faith without issue in all aspects of their daily lives.”

    If you are affiliated with a healthcare network and would like to facilitate a Sikh awareness presentation for your team, please contact us at community@sikhcoalition.org. In addition to facilitating these presentations, the Sikh Coalition has increased our work with healthcare providers in the past year given the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association, we have fought to ensure that Sikh healthcare providers on the frontlines are able to maintain their articles of faith and have access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need; we also produced a guide to Sikhi for non-Sikh healthcare providers, and continue to curate COVID-19 vaccine safety and availability information along with partner organizations.

  • 02/02/2021

    Justice for Sikh Trucker

    The Sikh Coalition continues to fight for Sikhs in all professions--including the trucking industry--to receive equal treatment under the law and practice their faith fearlessly.

    In December of 2020, Paramjit Singh Sandhu, a truck driver, faced a violation of his religious rights when he was instructed to report to a medical facility in Sachse, TX, for what should have been a routine drug test required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Unfortunately, staff at a MedPost Urgent Care facility would not allow him to complete the procedure with his dastaar on. This claim was in violation of Mr. Sandhu’s religious and statutory rights--and the regulations of the DOT.

    Mr. Sandhu rightly refused to remove his dastaar, left the clinic, and consulted the Sikh Coalition. We contacted CareSpot, the parent company of MedPost, and advised them of this violation of the DOT’s religious accommodation policy; we were then able to secure a written accommodation for Mr. Sandhu on January 5, 2021, and he got his drug test shortly thereafter.

    “I knew that it was within my rights to keep my turban during a routine drug test,” said Mr. Sandhu. “Thanks to the Sikh Coalition’s free legal advice, I was able to reach an amicable solution, and now, more people are aware of the rights afforded to all religious minorities in the trucking industry.”

    The Sikh Coalition has been working on issues pertaining to drug testing for years, including our landmark 2013 settlement of a multi-year, testing-related case involving four Sikh truck drivers who were discriminated against by transportation industry giant JB Hunt. In addition to providing legal support for those in need, we also pursue proactive measures--including a comprehensive effort to hold a major training initiative with national testing company Quest Diagnostics in 2019, and working with the North American Punjabi Trucking Association to submit public comments on DOT’s hair testing requirements last year.

    “Drug testing is one area where observant Sikhs are frequently and falsely told there are ‘issues’ with their articles of faith,” said Aasees Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Client and Community Services Manager. “We continue to engage in cases like Mr. Sandhu’s, and push for more protections like the DOT’s rules around accommodations for drug testing, because it remains our position that no one should have to make a choice between their religious beliefs and their career of choice.”

    If you or someone you know has encountered difficulties relating to employer-mandated drug testing, please contact the Sikh Coalition for a free legal consultation. No Sikh should have to cut their hair or remove their dastaar when submitting to a drug test. Additionally, for those in the trucking industry, take a moment to review our trucker ‘know your rights’ resource today.

  • 11/09/2020

    Legal project updates

    The Sikh Coalition is so appreciative of the sangat's support of the  Sikh Coalition’s “Legal  Work” project. The investment has been so important in pushing this work forward. 


    In advance of Dasvandh Week we wanted to share updates on our legal work from the last 12 month. 

    Orangevale Gurdwara Vandalism

    In early January 2020, the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, California was vandalized with the phrase “WHITE POWER” and a swastika. After alerting law enforcement, the gurdwara retained the Sikh Coalition to assist in the case and liaise with authorities. We also worked with gurdwara leadership to organize an interfaith solidarity open house attended by neighbors, elected officials, faith and community leaders, and partner organizations. Proactive media outreach by our communications team resulted in coverage of this case in all major local media outlets. Months later, the Sikh Coalition hosted a virtual forum for the Orangevale sangat where multiple law enforcement agencies provided updates on ongoing investigations of white nationalists in the area. 


    Colorado Hate Crime Case

    On April 29, 2020, Lakhwant Singh was verbally and physically attacked by a customer. Mr. Singh retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal support and push the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to charge his attacker with a hate crime. Through these efforts more than 2,600 people sent emails to Jefferson County District Attorney urging him to pursue a hate crime charge; in addition, 29 organizations joined a sign-on letter urging for the same, and many others signed and delivered additional petitions from across the world.  


    Legal Support for Sikh Healthcare Professionals

    Our legal team directly helped doctors, dentists, nurses, and medical students secure accommodations and forms of PPE, like Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) that protect those who maintain facial hair. We also worked with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association to produce legal guidance for Sikh medical professionals advising them of their religious rights, their employer’s obligation to protect their health, and how best to request an accommodation for appropriate PPE.


    New Jersey Bullying Case

    The Sikh Coalition is pursuing justice for a Sikh student who has suffered under a pattern of racial- and religious-based bullying since 2018. The school board previously failed to help the student after two “investigations,” and repeatedly downplayed the extent of the bullying--which was so severe that the student had to be removed from school. In July of this year, however, the school board was ordered to submit an answer to the suit filed against them in May by the Sikh Coalition and co-counsel. 


    This is in addition to responding to 200+ legal intakes a year, filing joint amicus briefs, and our ongoing advocacy, education and community engagement work. As we continue to defend and safeguards religious freedom, we look forward to sharing more updates. 

  • 10/06/2020

    Fighting for Workplace Religious Accommodations

    collaborated with Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic about the importance of addressing damages when Sikhs and others are discriminated against under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). 

    Currently, when someone files a lawsuit under RFRA–alleging that their religious rights were violated by the federal government–they can’t be awarded money as compensation. For example, if a federal employee is denied the right to maintain their articles of faith while at work and has to file a lawsuit under RFRA, they won’t get any monetary compensation for the time during which their rights were violated–including, say, for time when they were suspended or couldn’t go to their job. A requirement to provide compensation isn’t just about making things right for these individuals, though: It also deters the government from similar abuses in the future. 

    When Congress enacted RFRA, we believe they intended for people who faced religious discrimination to be able to get all manner of relief and damages, including money. The language in the RFRA statute that allows for people to file a lawsuit is very similar to language in other statues which do allow for monetary compensation, so it would make sense that RFRA would allow for a monetary award too. Often, even routine enforcement of general policies can infringe on religious minorities’ abilities to exercise their faith. Sometimes, these violations only take a matter of minutes–like when TSA agents extend their authority in the search of a Sikh at airport screening. While the infringement may not last very long and the government may take steps to correct their actions moving forward, the individuals who have been harmed should be fairly compensated–and the government should be motivated not to violate anyone’s rights that way again. 

    On February 12, 2020 the Sikh Coalition jointly filed an amicus brief–a document that provides the U.S. Supreme Court with additional information and perspective–in the matter of Tanzin v. Tanvir. In this case, a group of Muslim men refused to act as FBI informants on their community and suffered retaliation, including by being placed on a “no fly” list. This action by the federal government was a major infringement of their religious rights, and was a clear attempt to force these Muslims to inform on other Muslims. They filed a lawsuit under RFRA, causing the FBI to remove their names from the list. However, when they tried to get money as part of their damages for the FBI’s conduct, the court held that the men were not entitled to monetary relief under the RFRA statute. The Supreme Court is now reviewing the case to determine whether these men can actually claim monetary damages even after the government fixed the underlying problem. While this case is about the experiences of these Muslim men, we wanted to make sure the Sikh perspective on this issue was heard, because RFRA is meant to protect religious minority groups like ours.

    Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reversed the District Court and agreed with the Muslim men that the government should pay damages under RFRA lawsuits. The government appealed, and today, the Supreme Court hears this case to decide whether the ruling that gives justice to religious minorities like Sikhs will stand. We and our partners hope that the Supreme Court decides to hold the federal government accountable for violating the free exercise of religion by allowing for monetary compensation for those whose rights were violated–including Sikhs who face discrimination–and deters the federal government from further harmful behavior. 

    Our brief was included in the list cited by SCOTUSblog, which tracks important cases that are before the Supreme Court; you can click that link to learn more about this case as it moves forward. Regardless of the outcome of this case, the Sikh Coalition will continue to work to ensure that the religious rights of Sikhs and other minority groups are protected from discrimination–whether from the federal goverment, private employers, or anyone else. If you or someone you know has faced bias, bigotry, or backlash, reach out to our team for free legal aid. And as always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly!

  • 08/03/2020

    Fighting for Articles of Faith in the Workplace

    The Sikh Coalition legal team receives hundreds of intakes every year from community members who have been discriminated against–sometimes for years on end. In too many professions across both the private and public sectors, the Sikh articles of faith specifically have been viewed as problematic by employers, which often leads to religious accommodations being refused. Most recently, we’ve seen this as healthcare professionals struggle with hospital policies requiring them to shave their beards in order to wear certain types of personal protective equipment or risk termination. We’ve also seen it in cases where employers say having a visible Sikh in a customer-facing position detracts from their bottom line, so they either don’t hire them or put them in a position where customers can’t see them and their turban and beard, like our client at Walt Disney World. We’ve even seen it in the restaurant industry, where Sikhs are told they can’t wear a kara because jewelry is prohibited by the local health codes. 

    Essentially, Sikhs face discrimination and a lack of understanding about our articles of faith significantly more than most other religious groups. Unfortunately, employers too often get away with it because they have the law on their side. That’s why we are so excited to share with you a legal brief we have been working on to combat this problem!

    Right now, if an employer does not want to grant an employee’s request for a religious accommodation, all they have to do is show that providing the accommodation burdens them with more than a “de minimis” cost. In practice, this ends up meaning “almost any” cost. This rule comes from a United States Supreme Court case called Trans World Airlines Inc. vs. Hardison, which interprets the requirements of providing religious accommodations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Since the late 1970s, employers have been using this case to get out of giving religious accommodations for their staff. 

    Recently, though, a new case dealing with this legal standard has arisen, and is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Small vs. Memphis Light, Gas and Water, a Tennessee employee who is a Jehovah’s Witness asked his employer for religious accommodations so he could attend certain religious and community service obligations required by his faith. His employer said that changing their schedule would inflict more than a de minimis cost, so they weren’t obligated to to provide him with the time off. The lower courts agreed with the employer, and said they did not have to give this employee the requested time off despite the fact that it was being requested as a religious accommodation under Title VII, due to the cost involved. 

    The Sikh Coalition has joined with a law firm, Horvitz & Levy, and Muslim Advocates, another civil rights organization, to file a legal document called an amicus brief in this case. As you probably know, the Sikh Coalition often collaborates with other groups when addressing major civil rights issues that affect a wide range of communities, as is the case here. Our brief focuses on the fact that the current standard not only erodes the protections that were intended for religious practices under the Civil Rights Act, but it also misinterprets the original meaning of de minimis cost or burden. We want the Supreme Court to recognize that the way the law is interpreted now significantly harms minority religious groups, like Sikhs, and allows employers to effectively discriminate against those groups under the protection of the law. This discrimination has plagued our community for far too long and must stop.

    We’re very excited that our brief was also cited by the SCOTUSblog, which tracks important cases that are before the Supreme Court, to read as part of their “Petitions of the Week.” We, along with our partners, hope that the Supreme Court agrees to review this case so that we can finally make sure employers across the country are held accountable and are not discriminating against their employees due to their religious beliefs. 

  • 07/28/2020

    Justice for Sikh Student in NJ

    July 28, 2020 (Woodbury, NJ) — The Sikh Coalition continues to pursue justice for a New Jersey Sikh student who has suffered under a pattern of racial- and religious-based bullying since 2018. As of last Friday, the Gloucester County Special Services School District Board of Education was ordered to submit an answer to the complaint filed against them in May by the Sikh Coalition and co-counsel. After their answer is filed with the Court, the case will head to mediation–the process under New Jersey law by which these kinds of complaints are first addressed before moving to a civil trial.

    On June 24, the Board of Education filed a motion to dismiss our initial complaint. As a reminder, this same board previously failed to take action to help the Sikh student after two investigations. They repeatedly downplayed the extent of the bullying at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT), which was so severe that the student had to be removed from school. In denying the problem, they insisted on characterizing obviously bias-motivated attacks as just ‘nicknames’ among students.

    After a reply from the Sikh Coalition, however, Judge Timothy Chell has determined that the family’s complaint presents sufficient facts to state a “cause of action,” meaning that the case will move forward. This is a significant step forward in ensuring that the school board faces some outside accountability for their failure to help this child and take the harassment they faced seriously.

    “I am disappointed but not at all surprised that the School Board has not acknowledged–much less apologized for–their failure to keep my child safe at GCIT,” said the student’s mother, who remains anonymous. “It is clear, however, from Judge Chell’s ruling that authorities outside the district see that the trauma my child endured matters. If we do not reach a satisfactory end through mediation, I believe that a civil court will see the board’s clear pattern of discrimination and inaction and force them to begin to make this right.”

    In advance of mediation, the Sikh Coalition continues to collect evidence regarding what appears to be a systemic problem with harassment and bullying at GCIT. In addition, our legal team has engaged the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and encouraged them to pursue a broader investigation into the environment that school officials and the board are creating for GCIT’s minority students.

    “We are uncovering more and more about the rampant, widespread racism at GCIT, which makes the failure of the school board to confront and discipline that behavior all the more unacceptable,” said Giselle Klapper, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney. “One way or another, we expect restorative justice for this student–as well as meaningful change to help other racial and religious minorities who may still be suffering from the same kind of malice from their peers and neglect from those who should protect them.” 

    Even after more than a year out of school, the effects of the bullying on this student persist: they remain in treatment for negative mental health consequences of their experience. And while students across New Jersey were transitioned to distance learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this student–who was already learning from home–has been subjected to additional reporting burdens and reduced learning time. 

  • 07/22/2020

    Hate Crime Charged in #JusticeForLakhwant Case!

    July 22, 2020 (Lakewood, CO) — Yesterday evening, Mr. Lakhwant Singh and the Sikh Coalition were pleased to learn that the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office has decided to add a hate crime charge against Eric Breemen. Moving forward, Breemen will be charged with multiple counts–now including a bias-motivated crime–in the violent April 29 assault of Mr. Singh.

    “I am so very grateful to everyone–Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, from Lakewood, elsewhere in Colorado, across the country, and beyond–who have stood with me and my family in this incredibly difficult time,” said Lakwhant Singh. “I appreciate the Jefferson County authorities hearing my story and, through these charges, recognizing the role that hate played in my horrible attack.”

    Nearly three months ago, Breemen verbally accosted Mr. Singh and his wife in their store in Lakewood, CO, repeatedly telling them both to “go back to your country.” Immediately afterwards, in the parking lot outside the store, Breemen struck Mr. Singh with his car and left him for dead; he later described Mr. Singh as an “older Arab” to the officers who arrested him. 

    “The decision to add a bias-motivated charge against Breemen is a resounding victory not just for Mr. Singh, but for minority communities who are threatened by bias and bigotry every day,” said Amrith Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “Adding these charges sends a clear message: Hatred is not welcome in Jefferson County, and those who are targeted for being different know that this community will acknowledge it and stand with them in solidarity.”

    The Sikh Coalition, along with support from local community members–including the leadership of Colorado Singh Sahba and the Colorado Coalition Against Hate–as well as the law firm of WilmerHale, has worked diligently over the past several weeks to push for the addition of this hate crime charge. Through these efforts, more than 2,600 people sent emails to Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir urging him to pursue a hate crime charge; in addition, 29 organizations joined a sign-on letter earlier this month urging for the same, and many others others signed and delivered additional petitions from across the world.  We extend our deep gratitude to all of the allies who came together to demand #JusticeForLakhwant.

    The Sikh Coalition also helped raise awareness for this case through successful media coverage from the local to the national levels. We will continue to provide updates in this case and also work with Colorado authorities to minimize the risk of future attacks. 

  • 07/14/2020

    PPE for Sikhs on the COVID-19 Frontlines

    July 14, 2020 (New York, NY) — As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens in many states across the nation, the Sikh Coalition continues to ensure that Sikh healthcare providers on the frontlines who maintain their articles of faith have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to keep themselves safe.

    Recently, the Sikh Coalition worked with Simranpreet Kainth, a 3rd year medical student at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) School of Medicine, to secure him a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) while he completes his rotations. With the invaluable support of CUNY School of Medicine staff, Simranpreet has been trained on how to use his PAPR, which he will wear when interacting with any COVID-positive patients.

    “I am thankful to my school officials for ensuring that I have the tools I need to care for both my patients and myself as I continue my studies,” said Simranpreet. “The free guidance that the Sikh Coalition provided showed me that I shouldn’t have to choose between my beard and my passion for medicine, and I’m grateful that they are willing to help other Sikh healthcare professionals who are working to beat this virus.”

    The Sikh Coalition has been working since the early days of the pandemic to ensure that no Sikh American feels they have to choose between their articles of faith and their desire to serve in the medical profession–particularly in this time of need. Since March, we have helped several other Sikh healthcare professionals across the nation secure PAPRs or other similar devices via religious accommodations. We also worked directly with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association (NASMDA) to produce this letter to Sikh healthcare professionals informing them of their rights when it comes to articles of faith and PPE guidelines, and we have provided behind the scenes guidance on best practices for Sikhs in requesting an accommodation and advocating for themselves on a global level.

    “There is no difference between the service of Sikhs who choose to work in the medical field with their articles of faith and anyone else in their line of work,” said Cindy Nesbit, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney. “We are glad to help them secure alternative forms of PPE that allow them to continue saving lives. Now more than ever, the medical profession needs all hands on deck–and that means that healthcare employers uphold their obligation to ensure equality of opportunity for religious minorities.”

    If you or someone you know is a healthcare professional, please read the above-mentioned letter we co-wrote with NASMDA, as well as this initial memo we released in March offering guidance on how to proactively request a religious accommodation for a PAPR or CAPR. Similarly, if you or someone you know have been told to shave facial hair in response to COVID-19, please contact the Sikh Coalition’s legal team for free legal aid immediately. You can also email ppe4sikhs@gmail.com to inquire about obtaining appropriate PPE through NASMDA.

  • 01/14/2020

    Responding to Vandalism at a California Gurdwara

    January 14, 2020 (Orangevale, CA) – Sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, CA was vandalized with white nationalist graffiti. The graffiti included the phrase, “WHITE POWER,” and depicted a swastika on a concrete slab that is to serve as the sign in front of the newly-opened gurdwara.

    “We were shocked and saddened to discover this hateful message, because no group should ever be the target of this kind of bigotry,” said Orangevale Sikh community member Dimple Bhullar. “The Sikh community has been an integral part of California for 125 years, and we won’t let this divide or silence us now.”

    The graffiti was discovered early Monday morning by a neighbor, and gurdwara leadership and law enforcement were immediately alerted. Since then, the gurdwara has retained the Sikh Coalition to assist in the case. As of now, there has been no arrest, but our organization continues to engage with local law enforcement to ensure that state and federal agencies are taking every appropriate action in response to this hate crime.

    “We are grateful to local law enforcement for responding quickly to this ugly vandalism,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney Cindy Nesbit. “No community should ever feel unsafe in their house of worship, and it is essential that this case be investigated as a hate crime given the clear white nationalist rhetoric.”

    The Sikh Coalition is also providing rapid communications support to raise awareness in local and national media outlets and ensure respectful and responsible reporting. Already, this work has resulted in successful media coverage in local FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC affiliates, in addition to the Sacramento Bee and Newsweek. Our outreach to state– and national-level elected officials has also already resulted in bipartisan condemnation of this bigotry.

    On Saturday, January 25th, the Sikh Coalition assisted with an open house and interfaith solidarity event at Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, CA. Hundreds of people joined the Orangevale sangat on the heels of the discovery of white nationalist graffiti on the gurdwara property earlier this month.

    We will continue to provide more updates on this case as they become available. In the meantime, we encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and know your rights. Download our FAQ on hate crimes and hate speech and learn how to report incidents to authorities and the Sikh Coalition. Also, ask your gurdwara if they have proactively worked with the Sikh Coalition to make the gurdwara safer; if not, please share our Gurdwara Security Toolkit and email us at community@sikhcoalition.org for a free consultation in English or Punjabi.

  • 12/11/2019

    Hate Crime Charged in Bellingham, WA

    December 11, 2019 (Bellingham, Washington) – The Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has announced that it will bring hate crime charges in the case of an Uber passenger who physically attacked and verbally abused his observant Sikh American driver on Thursday, December 5. The driver, who retained the Sikh Coalition for pro bono legal consultation and remains anonymous as he recovers from the attack, expressed his relief at this positive development.

    “We are grateful to the Bellingham Police Department for recognizing the influence of bias in this case from the beginning, and we applaud the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for reaching the right decision,” said Amrith Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “The attacker’s racist rants regarding the driver’s skin color, Indian heritage, turban, and beard leading up to and during the assault left little doubt that this was a hate crime.”

    The attacker, Grifin Levi Sayers, will be arraigned at the Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday, December 13, at 9:00 AM. Because a hate crime against one is an act of aggression against the whole community, members of the Bellingham and greater Washington sangat are planning to gather at the arraignment to express their gratitude for the prompt and appropriate response to this hate crime case.

    “Charging these kinds of malicious attacks as hate crimes sends a clear message that it is unacceptable to target others for their heritage, religion, or any other aspect of their identity,” said Dr. Jasmit Singh, a Sikh community leader in the greater Seattle area. “Recognizing the influence of bias–and then taking these incidents seriously and addressing them with the proper legal mechanisms–is the first step to making our communities safer.”

    We are grateful to the Sikh Uber driver for sharing his incident with the police: Only through that brave act has this step toward justice been taken, and the awareness around the continued threat of hate and violence been increased.

    In light of this incident, the Sikh Coalition has updated our ‘Know Your Rights’ resource for taxi and rideshare drivers. We also continue to provide free and confidential legal assistance to Sikhs who have been discriminated against or targeted for their religious beliefs or identity. If you believe you or somebody you know has experienced bias, bigotry, or backlash, please fill out our confidential legal intake form or call  (212) 655-3095 to speak with someone in English or Punjabi.

  • 09/02/2018

    Project Update

    We thank you for your generous support and commitment to helping us serve the Panth!

    Legal Work Protects Religious and Immigrant Rights

    The Sikh Coalition is proud to announce that a resolution was reached in the December 2016 employment discrimination lawsuit that was filed on behalf of Dr. Jaswinder Pal Singh. The employer, a Tennessee-based medical group, has agreed to work with the Sikh Coalition to improve its employment hiring policies so that all qualified job candidates, regardless of their faith or background, will receive fair and equal treatment. For more details, please click here. 

    The Sikh Coalition also invested critical resources into defending and protecting Sikh civil rights by growing the legal team. Amrith Kaur joined as Legal Director in September 2017. In the fall Senior Staff Attorney Julian Darwall and Staff Attorney Gieselle Klapper also joined the team. The legal team will continue to provide the Sikh American community with the best free legal resources in areas of hate crime, employment discrimination, bullying, racial profiling and religious rights. 

    The Sikh Coalition also continues to support other issues by signing on amicus briefs including in support of precedent prohibiting the government from endorsing a particular religion and contesting the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 

      

     

     

Name Donation Date
M. S. $11.25 November 2022
S. K. $50.00 November 2022
Inderpal Singh Gumer $250.00 November 2022
Gurpreet k Singh $250.00 November 2022
Match Fund $250.00 November 2022
Anonymous $250.00 November 2022
Match Fund $100.00 November 2022
Match Fund $100.00 November 2022
Jagdeep Singh $100.00 November 2022
D. M. $50.00 October 2022
G. S. $25.00 October 2022
S. K. $50.00 October 2022
D. M. $50.00 September 2022
G. S. $25.00 September 2022
S. K. $50.00 September 2022
D. M. $50.00 August 2022
G. S. $25.00 August 2022
S. K. $50.00 August 2022
D. M. $50.00 July 2022
G. S. $25.00 July 2022
S. K. $50.00 July 2022
D. M. $50.00 June 2022
G. S. $25.00 June 2022
S. K. $50.00 June 2022
Deep Mangat $50.00 May 2022
G. S. $25.00 May 2022
S. K. $50.00 May 2022
G. S. $25.00 April 2022
S. K. $50.00 April 2022
G. S. $25.00 March 2022
S. K. $50.00 March 2022
Anonymous $25.00 February 2022
S. K. $50.00 February 2022
S. K. $50.00 January 2022
Anonymous $50.00 December 2021
Harpal Singh $100.00 December 2021
S. K. $50.00 December 2021
Rupi Chatha $2,000.00 November 2021
Match Fund $100.00 November 2021
Anonymous $50.00 November 2021
Harpreet Singh Binning $500.00 November 2021
Match Fund $100.00 November 2021
Anonymous $100.00 November 2021
Match Fund $400.00 November 2021
Jasdeep Singh $501.00 November 2021
harvinder singh $250.00 November 2021
Match Fund $300.00 November 2021
Anonymous $300.00 November 2021
K. C. $50.00 August 2021
K. C. $50.00 July 2021
Administrator Dasvandh Network $1,000.00 June 2021
K. C. $50.00 June 2021
K. C. $50.00 May 2021
K. C. $50.00 April 2021
K. C. $50.00 March 2021
K. C. $50.00 February 2021
K. C. $50.00 January 2021
Anonymous $50.00 December 2020
Joginder Singh Khalsa $108.00 December 2020
K. C. $50.00 December 2020
Anonymous $500.00 December 2020
Anonymous $500.00 November 2020
Match Fund $100.00 November 2020
Kanwarbir Charaia $50.00 November 2020
harvinder singh $500.00 November 2020
K. K. $51.00 November 2020
A. K. $30.00 November 2020
Match Fund $30.00 November 2020
H. S. $30.00 November 2020
Match Fund $26.00 November 2020
Anonymous $26.00 November 2020
Match Fund $100.00 November 2020
G. G. $100.00 November 2020
Match Fund $100.00 November 2020
Raj Bhandari $100.00 November 2020
Match Fund $100.00 November 2020
harjit singh $100.00 November 2020
Match Fund $250.00 November 2020
Inderpreet Kour $250.00 November 2020
G. K. $200.00 October 2020
Administrator Dasvandh Network $500.00 August 2020
Anonymous $50.00 January 2020
Anonymous $50.00 January 2020
Match Fund $25.00 November 2019
Inderpal Singh $25.00 November 2019
Chitratan Singh Sethi $51.00 November 2019
Inderpal Singh Gumer $400.00 November 2019
Match Fund $100.00 November 2019
Anonymous $100.00 November 2019
Match Fund $50.00 November 2019
Aasees Kaur $50.00 November 2019
Match Fund $100.00 November 2019
Vikram Singh $100.00 November 2019
Match Fund $250.00 November 2019
harvinder singh $250.00 November 2019
Match Fund $50.00 November 2019
Harbhajan Purewal $50.00 November 2019
Match Fund $250.00 November 2019
Manpreet Singh $250.00 November 2019
Mandeep Singh $2,000.00 November 2019
G. B. $150.00 November 2019
Match Fund $100.00 November 2019
Anonymous $100.00 November 2019
Inder Preet Singh $1,000.00 April 2019
I. S. $2,300.00 December 2018
Harjaneet Bedi $100.00 December 2018
Harjaneet Bedi $100.00 December 2018
Vikram Singh $100.00 December 2018
Gurpal Bhuller $250.00 November 2018
Match Fund $101.00 November 2018
Anonymous $101.00 November 2018
Match Fund $200.00 November 2018
C. K. $200.00 November 2018
Match Fund $250.00 November 2018
Jasmit Singh $2,500.00 November 2018
G. A. $25.00 May 2018
A. D. $1,000.00 April 2018
G. A. $25.00 April 2018
G. A. $25.00 March 2018
G. A. $25.00 February 2018
G. A. $25.00 January 2018
K. S. $500.00 December 2017
A. D. $1,500.00 December 2017
G. A. $25.00 December 2017
R. S. $1,000.00 December 2017
K. S. $1,000.00 November 2017
I. S. $300.00 November 2017
V. S. $50.00 November 2017
P. G. $400.00 November 2017
G. A. $25.00 November 2017
H. S. $50.00 November 2017
D. M. $750.00 November 2017
P. N. $500.00 November 2017
M. S. $250.00 November 2017
G. A. $25.00 October 2017
S. S. $25.00 June 2017
G. D. $50.00 June 2017
M. S. $10.00 April 2017
P. S. $300.00 December 2016
R. S. $1,000.00 December 2016
G. S. $100.00 November 2016
I. B. $50.00 November 2016
V. S. $100.00 November 2016
I. G. $250.00 November 2016
A. K. $200.00 November 2016
D. M. $1,250.00 November 2016
P. N. $500.00 November 2016
P. D. $500.00 November 2016
S. B. $250.00 November 2016
H. M. $50.00 August 2016
J. C. $100.00 June 2016
I. S. $1,001.00 December 2015
M. S. $100.00 November 2015
V. S. $25.00 November 2015
J. S. $2,000.00 November 2015
P. N. $500.00 November 2015
M. S. $25.00 September 2015

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