June 17th, 2008 11:20 EST
Alleged Religious Discrimination At Disney
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, in collaboration with Matthew Sarelson of Sarelson, P.A., has filed a class action religious discrimination lawsuit against Walt Disney World Company on behalf of Mr. Sukhbir Channa and the Sikh American community .
Mr. Channa, a practicing Sikh American, applied for a job with Disney in the Fall of 2006 but was not hired and was told that he did not have the Disney look ? " a negative reference to his religiously-mandated dastaar (Sikh turban). Witnesses have filed affidavits in his support. The lawsuit seeks financial damages and a court order barring Disney from ever discriminating against prospective Sikh employees.
Disney`s position is fundamentally un-American because it forces Sikhs and also observant Jews and Muslims to choose between their faith and their career, ? said SALDEF Chairman Manjit Singh. It is also hypocritical for Disney to make millions of dollars using and vilifying cartoon characters that wear turbans and simultaneously reject the right of an American to wear a turban in accordance with his faith."
Background on Sikhism
Founded over 500 years ago in India by Guru Nanak, Sikhism is a distinct world religion that preaches universal equality and compassion. There are more than 25 million Sikhs throughout the world and over 500,000 adherents in the United States. Observant Sikh men are required by their faith to keep their hair uncut and covered with a turban; the turban is optional for Sikh women. These constitutionally-protected articles of faith have deep religious significance for Sikhs and represent a Sikh`s personal relationship with and devotion to God. Accordingly, Sikhs treat these articles of faith with the utmost respect and pride.
To stay updated on the progress of this case, please visit: http://www.saldef.org
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To read about some of the previous cases SALDEF has handled regarding religious accommodation, please read below: