UNITED SIKHS Meets With New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)
New York: On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, UNITED SIKHS met with the New York City Commission on Human Rights staff to discuss some of the Sikh community's civil rights concerns. While the City of New York has some of the most progressive civil rights laws in the country, many members of the Sikh community suffer workplace, school and public space discrimination based on actual or perceived religion, race, ethnicity and national origin. During the meeting UNITED SIKHS and CCHR discussed how UNITED SIKHS and the Commission could work together to inform the Sikh community about their religious and civil rights and about where to go if they need assistance.
The Sikh community often needs religious accommodations in order to be able to wear the turban, Kirpan and or beard at work. They also often suffer discrimination when they are detained or refused entry because they wear these articles of faith. Children in schools suffer bullying because they are perceived to be Muslim or because of their race or actual or perceived national origin. Bullying could lead to or constitute violations in these circumstances.
New York City civil rights laws protect a Sikh's right to religious expression and against discrimination. In fact, recent court decisions have upheld that discrimination occurs even when employers place Sikh employees out of public view based on stereotypes because this denies the individual equal opportunity and protection.
During the meeting, UNITED SIKHS suggested that businesses, courts, police, educators and the general public have very little information about Sikhs, their culture and their religion and could benefit from seminars that raise awareness of how security and other business concerns interfere with these constitutional rights. Lack of information often leads to confusion, apprehension and disbelief about the Sikh religious requirements not to remove the turban or shave and are often at the heart of the most common violations. Awareness of how the 9/11 events have impacted THE Sikh and Muslim communities would also go a long way to combat stereotypes.
CCHR civil rights workshops also educate employers about where violations are most likely to occur. Educating business owners about where violations could occur helps to minimize the possibility that Sikhs will be denied workplace religious accommodations and will tend to keep Sikhs employed in a variety of employment sectors here in the City.
According to CCHR, their offices are available to take complaints of discrimination to enforce the City's civil rights laws. UNITED SIKHS provides "Know Your Rights" workshops in Gurdwaras across the country and are prepared to help members of the New York City community who need assistance to file their complaint.
For assistance please visit the UNITED SIKHS website at: www.unitedsikhs.org or visit one of our clinics. The next clinic will take place today, September 28, 2016. Staff attorneys will be available to assist members of the community with questions about their civil rights. Please find our flyer below or contact@unitedsikhs.org for location and more information.
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International Civil & Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
By: Wanda Sanchez Day, Esq., Acting National Legal Director
Tel: 1-646-688-3525
E: law-usa@unitedsikhs.org | contact@unitedsikhs.org

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