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A Sikh postman has won his employment case against Disney after he accused the company of keeping him segregated and separated from co-workers and visitors to the park.
The postman was prevented from alternating routes but was stuck to the same route that kept him away from the vast majority of visitors and staff. Lawyers for Gurdit Singh said he had been segregated from staff and customers at the Florida theme park because he violated a "look policy" despite having worked for the park since 2008.
Disney has since stated that Mr Singh is free to carry out his job in full sight of customers.
Mr Singh spoke of his relief at the decision saying: "My hope is that this policy change opens up the door for more Sikhs and other religious minorities to practise their faith freely here at Disney.
"My turban and beard serve as a constant reminder of my commitment to my faith... these articles remind everybody that we're all equal. That's not just a Sikh value; that's an American value."
Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and The Sikh Coalition, wrote to Disney expressing their concerns over Mr Singh's treatment prior to their decision to allow Mr Singh to work in view of customers.
The ACLU argued that Disney’s treatment of Mr Singh was a violation of his civil rights and was that his mistreatment was specifically due to his race.
Heather Weaver, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU said: “Where companies have these look policies or other uniform standards, it’s especially difficult for individuals of minority faiths to meet the requirements and so it disproportionately affects them.”
Despite Disney responding promptly to the letter from the ACLU and stating that Mr Singh would be allowed to work in all areas, many have accused Disney of not hiring workers based on their appearance and ethnic background.
A recent amendment to the 1989 Employment Act in the UK has granted Sikhs the right to wear turbans in the vast majority of workplaces. Even in construction, Sikhs do not need to wear safety helmets unless it is required.If they can work in a safe environment without removing their turban they can, however, in extreme circumstances, such as working at height, they must adhere to full health and safety procedures.
Under the previous rules, the law had a loophole which meant that the vast majority working in construction sites had to wear safety helmets, however, this loophole has since been closed. The new UK amendment will still require specific workers, such as those in emergency response and armed service positions, to wear helmets. However, in the vast majority of workplaces, Sikhs are permitted to wear their turban.
If you have been asked to remove your turban or have been discriminated against in the workplace due to your religion or ethnicity, you will be able to take legal action. Regardless of your employer, if you have been dismissed or mistreated as a result of race or religion, you will be able to make a claim and obtain compensation. Contact us today using our online contact form.