Sikh in US wins religious freedom at his Disney job

Representational Image - Sikh Turban
Representational Image

NEW YORK (TIP): A Sikh-American employee at the Walt Disney World in Florida, who was barred from working in view of guests due to his religious appearance, for seven years, has achieved a significant victory, with the company agreeing to end the segregation and accommodate his religious beliefs.

Gurdit Singh had been employed as a mail carrier at the popular amusement park in 2008, but was told by his Disney bosses that he would not be permitted to run mail routes visible to park guests, because his religious appearance “violated” the company’s ‘Look Policy,’ according to the rights group Sikh Coalition. In a letter to Disney, Sikh Coalition and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the “segregation” relegated Singh to a mail route that had a greater workload than other routes. It created “animosity” among his co-workers because he could not assist in operating other routes and it precluded his opportunities for advancement. Following the intervention by Sikh Coalition and ACLU, Walt Disney World finally reversed its decision and granted Singh a religious accommodation, permitting him to run all mail routes.Singh will no longer be kept hidden from public view of Disney visitors because of his turban and beard, and he will be permitted to run all mail routes just like every other mail carrier, Sikh Coalition said. Singh had contacted the Coalition to help him assert his right.

“For seven years, Singh was restricted to delivering mail to Disney’s corporate offices –a mail route that shielded him from areas where Disney guests congregate,” it said, adding, all of Singh’s co-workers rotated their routes every three weeks and delivered mail throughout the park.

Singh had contacted the Coalition to help him assert his right to be free of discrimination in the workplace.

Earlier this year, the Sikh Coalition partnered with the ACLU and sent a “forceful demand letter” to Disney explaining that its treatment of Singh violated the law.

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“No one should have to face daily humiliation because of his or her religious beliefs. I am also grateful to Disney and hope this decision opens the door for other Sikhs and religious minorities who wish to work for this company,” he said in a statement.

The ACLU said, “Because Disney is a major multinational corporation, its decision to grant Singh a religious accommodation is an important step forward in achieving workplace equality for Sikhs and others of minority faiths, and Disney should be applauded.”

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