US Sikh woman racial harassed wins settlement

From SikhiWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Mrs. Sukhbir Kaur, US Sikh wins case for harassment

Sikh woman racial, religiously and sexually harassed, wins settlement November 20, 2008

In a settlement agreement, National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL), Mrs. Sukhbir Kaur's former employer, agreed to make changes to their employment policies and pay money damages to nine victims of harassment, including Mrs. Kaur.

The settlement sends a strong message to private employers that discrimination against Sikhs is illegal and will be harshly punished.

Mrs. Kaur's lawsuit alleged that in 2004 an NWL store manager harassed Mrs. Kaur because she was a Sikh, a woman and an Indian.

The manager told her to remove her turban because she "would appear sexier without it." When she refused the manager's repeated advances, he told her that she was not permitted to use the bathroom and would have to wear a diaper to work.

NWL failed to take appropriate action to address and correct the harassment, even after Mrs. Kaur complained. Instead, she was fired.

Mrs. Kaur's matter was first brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) attention in July 2005, when the Sikh Coalition filed a charge of discrimination on her behalf with the agency.

The EEOC subsequently conducted an investigation and found that many South Asian workers at NWL's Long Island City store in Queens, NY were being harassed. They endured constant taunts about their national origin and religion, such as "All Indians are nasty," "Sikhs are thieves" or "I'm tired of seeing old Indian faces all the time."

Mrs. Kaur and the EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement with NWL once the charges were filed. When these efforts failed, the EEOC and the Sikh Coalition both filed lawsuits in 2007. Mrs. Kaur was co-represented by the Sikh Coalition and attorney Ravinder Singh Bhalla.

Citing the global economic meltdown, National Wholesale Liquidators Inc., a West Hempstead-based discount retailer, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

"It's really a bank-financing issue," Robert Pidgeon, the discounter's director of personnel, said yesterday. "We are caught in the credit crunch of the world."

The company, which operates about 50 stores nationwide, first indicated to vendors that it was having financial difficulties late last month. In a letter to vendors on Oct. 27, the company said lender GE Capital had reduced its credit line by $10 million without notice. The discounter filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday night.

"The reason they gave us was the environment outside was so bad that they are trying to protect themselves," the company wrote in the letter, which was shared by a source yesterday. .....More

more news

Sikh woman wins discrimination case against ex-employer 20 Nov 2008

NEW YORK: A US-based Sikh woman, who suffered racial, religious and sexual harassment at her work place, has won damages in a legal settlement that also forced her former employer to change its employment policies.

Sukhbir Kaur got justice after a three-year legal battle with National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL), which had fired her following her complaints over the "discriminatory treatment" meted out to her.

In a settlement reached between the two sides, the NWL agreed to make changes to its employment policies that would rid the company of discrimination and pay monetary damages to Kaur and eight other victims of harassment worth $255,000.

"The settlement sends a strong message to private employers that discrimination against Sikhs is illegal and will be harshly punished," the 'Sikh Coalition', a non-profit organisation of the community, said in a statement.

In the lawsuit, Kaur alleged that an NWL store manager in 2004 harassed her because she was a Sikh, a woman, and Indian. The manager, she said, told her to remove her turban because she "would appear sexier without it."

Kaur, who was represented by a 'Sikh Coalition' attorney, said that despite the manager's repeated advances which she spurned, NWL failed to take appropriate action, even after she complained to it. Instead, she was fired, the statement said.

In July 2005, Kaur's case was brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found that many South Asian workers at NWL's Long Island City store in Queens here were being harassed. The EEOC failed to reach a voluntary settlement with NWL, prompting it to file lawsuits against the company along with the 'Sikh Coalition' in 2007.

The NWL -- which settled the case on October 23, 2008 with a consent decree filed in court -- is a better workplace for its employees now because of Kaur's courage, Harsimran Kaur, Legal Director of 'Sikh Coalition', said.

External links