NEW YORK, NY: The Sikh Coalition, Ravinder Bhalla, Esq. of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt and Fader, LLC., and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached a settlement with Tri-County Lexus, a car dealership in Little Falls, New Jersey, on behalf of Gurpreet S. Kherha. Kherha, represented jointly by attorneys at the Sikh Coalition and Bhalla, filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and a lawsuit in 2009, claiming he was not hired by the car dealership because he maintains a beard, in violation of the dealership’s “no beard” policy for sales and administrative personnel.
Kherha, who maintains an unshorn beard (and wears a turban) as part of his Sikh religious practice, alleged that he was denied a religious accommodation to the dealership’s dress code policy and refused a position in early 2008 during the recruiting process, despite being fully qualified.
As part of the settlement, Tri-County Lexus has agreed to pay Kherha $50,000 in compensatory damages, and has entered into a two-year consent decree with the federal government.
The Consent Decree requires Tri-County Lexus to undertake a series of remedial measures for the next two years, which include:
* Revising its written policies and procedures prohibiting employment discrimination;
* Providing ongoing trainings to all staff on anti-discrimination laws, with a focus on religious discrimination and religious accommodation laws and;
* Ensuring a copy of its revised policies are provided to any applicant (not just employee) 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 U.S., just like anyone else. 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,” said Gurjot Kaur, Staff Attorney at the Sikh Coalition.
The Sikh Coalition thanked their co-counsel Ravinder S. Bhalla and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, particularly attorneys Elizabeth Grossman and Jadhira Rivera, for their dedicated efforts on behalf of Kherha.