Sikh PC discrimination case


by Rumbold
17th September, 2009 at 12:00 pm    

PC Gurmeal Singh is suing Greater Manchester Police for £200,000 on the basis of racial discrimination, since he alleges he was subjected to abuse from other officers, and was pressured to remove his turban for certain exercises. From the Daily Mail’s report (which is far better than the one in the Telegraph’s), it seems that there was a number of flashpoints (though the reporting is quite confused).

For me, allowing people to wear religious clothing at work is fine, and I think that it should be up to employers how to proceed. The flipside of this though is that people wearing religious clothing should not be able to claim any special treatment as a result of wearing said clothing. If there are health and safety issues, they should be made to sign waivers excusing their employers from any liability, or else remove their clothing (PC Singh did the former when asked to ride a bike).


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  1. Kevin Arscott

    RT @pickledpolitics: New blog post: Sikh PC discrimination case http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5924


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    New blog post: Sikh PC discrimination case http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5924




  1. Unhappy Briton — on 17th September, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

    Yes, I totally agree with you Rumbold. However I don’t know if everyone else will whether Sikh or not.

  2. Reza — on 17th September, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

    Very well put Rumbold. I agree. Except for this bit which needs clarification:

    “…I think that it should be up to employers how to proceed.”

    Do you believe that the employer should have the right to stipulate dress code?

    My employer has a dress code. Suits and tie for men and business dress for women.

    So if I had a job application from someone who wished to wear any cultural or religious garb, should I have the right to refuse employment on the basis that it is against our company dress code?

    Or should we have legislation that forces my company to adapt its policies to accommodate all cultural or religious garb?

    And is it ever acceptable to draw a line?

    For example, should my company have the right to ban the hejab?

    And if not, then should a Jedi Knight (a religion recognized on the last census) or a wiccan have the right to wear their preferred religious garb at my workplace?

    What about niqab or burqa wearing woman, or perhaps a man who wished to wear Taliban-style pyjamas and flip-flops. Should we be allowed to ban that attire?

    Would the argument that some attire may be deeply unsettling for staff and clients, or make it difficult for the wearer to do their job properly be allowable grounds for refusing employment?

  3. camilla — on 17th September, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

    just another “businessman” using his race and religion to get some money…

    By the way, is it allowed by their religion to use it to earn money? even if not – I don’t think he cares about his religion’s prescriptions when it comes to the chance to get money for nothing…

    wow, that’s what some people use their religious freedom for… I think they should sueback

  4. cjcjc — on 17th September, 2009 at 1:10 pm  

    Agree.

    I assume all the duties/dress codes etc are made clear in advance – or should be self-evident.

  5. camilla — on 17th September, 2009 at 1:12 pm  

    come on! he applied to this job to be “discriminated”, “insulted” and generously paid

  6. Chris — on 17th September, 2009 at 2:08 pm  

    I get fed up of constantly hearing about things like this. No-one forced this guy to have the job with the police and now when he’s successfully sued the police, it will be the taxpayer that will foot the bill.

    The UK definitely needs to get stricter on items like this.

    Examples of other strange things that happen in the UK are on the link below.

    http://www.UKandSpain.com/strange

    Chris

  7. camilla — on 17th September, 2009 at 4:57 pm  

    such people – as This Sikh – don’t seem to understand that they increase racial tensions with such silly “discrimination cases”. or they just do not give a damn… easy money makes some people absolutely brainless, greedy… such a shame

  8. Kulvinder — on 17th September, 2009 at 5:16 pm  

    such people – as This Sikh – don’t seem to understand that they increase racial tensions

    I’m unsure what the term ‘racial tension’ is meant to infer, but anyone who is ‘offended’ by an individual simply going to a tribunal is obviously a moron.

    If his case has no merit it will be dismissed.

    Do you believe that the employer should have the right to stipulate dress code?

    yes

    So if I had a job application from someone who wished to wear any cultural or religious garb, should I have the right to refuse employment on the basis that it is against our company dress code?

    yes

    Or should we have legislation that forces my company to adapt its policies to accommodate all cultural or religious garb?

    no

    For example, should my company have the right to ban the hejab?

    If i ruled the world yes, and the turban, your company would also be allowed to make everyone wear a burka (if it wanted)

    And if not, then should a Jedi Knight (a religion recognized on the last census) or a wiccan have the right to wear their preferred religious garb at my workplace?

    Jedi isn’t recognised as a religion.

    A better line of questioning would be; if the government taxed you to pay for various services, how would you ensure that those services catered for your particular needs (in terms of personal beliefs/practises/opinions)?

    As it is, i don’t have much sympathy for the people who hold the monopoly on violence in this country, so i don’t really care who wins in this case.

  9. Shatterface — on 17th September, 2009 at 5:51 pm  

    I think we should defend his right not to wear a helmet because he’s a Sikh to the same degree we’d defend someone else who refuses to wear a helmet because he’s a dick.

    And Jedi is a religion of peace, Youngling, but we do not take mockery lightly.

    Death to the Sith!

  10. Rumbold — on 17th September, 2009 at 6:13 pm  

    To expand my views, I pretty much agree with what Kulvinder says. As long as things are made clear in advance.

  11. Ravi Naik — on 17th September, 2009 at 7:22 pm  

    I am somewhat puzzled that Sikhs are exempt from wearing helmets in construction sites and when riding motorbikes. It is so damn irresponsible.

    Employers have every right to ensure that their employees are not harmed in any way, even if they sign a form, as the loss of an employee is always a liability to the company, not to mention the family and whatnot.

  12. Shatterface — on 17th September, 2009 at 7:51 pm  

    Just out of interest, does anyone have the stats for Sikhs killed at work – or on motorcycles – as a result of not wearing helmets?

    If there were many I’m sure we’d be getting ‘told ya so’ stories from The Sun.

  13. Mangles — on 17th September, 2009 at 7:55 pm  

    Ahh ravi that is so compassionate of you to think of this geezers family and whatnot. Of course your regular vitriol and negative take on anything that is Sikh has nothing to do with your taking exception why Sikhs are allowed special exemptions. Lets just have one rule for everything and ban all religions cos they can all go to our churches. And why cant these colored people bleach themselves to look like us indegenous Anglo-saxons? Why do they have to take liberties and keep their skin color? (pls excuse the sarcasm)

    For those morons who cant read, the story clearly stipulates this guy offered to sign a waiver that he would not sue his employer if anything was to happen to him, so long as he didnt have to wear a helmet (and thats from the Daily Mail!) So clearly he was not looking for compensation as all the haters are suggesting. (Daily Mail readers seem to have migrated to PP en masse – hope they’ve got visas lol!)

    I’d be interested to know where the figure of £200k comes from, sounds like a red-herring from the employer to try to demonise the guy and cover their own asses. Vis a vis “blood sucking leech taking your hard earned taxes!” Instead of “we are still institutionally racist and we will resist any change”.

    In some of the commentary I’ve read on this case it says he joined cos he was told his turban would be accommodated and that he gave his employers 12 years to implement suitable procedures. But the last straw came when he was forced to take his turban off. 12 years of taking s£$%e doesn’t sound like the actions of someone eager to sue his employer does it?

    Rab Rakha

  14. Refresh — on 17th September, 2009 at 7:58 pm  

    This is a very troubling case. The question of dress may be an issue but if you read it carefully Mr Singh is quite clear that Greater Manchester Police had not addressed the question for 12 years.

    Any professional police organisation would have established policies well ahead of time. The processes are clearly at fault, assuming the report and allegations are accurate.

    Read also the allegation of senior officers making racist comments about gunning down Eid celebrators. A joke amongst themselves it maybe (we have to assume) but consider that in the light of this same organisation taking two youngsters to court for plotting a ‘Columbine’.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8259565.stm

    It beggars belief. Never mind the tribunal, HMG should be in there investigating the force.

  15. Mangles — on 17th September, 2009 at 8:08 pm  

    Refresh I couldnt agree more.

    GMP are the same twats who have already been sued by two other Sikh officers in recent years – once for trying to stitch up another turban wearing Sikh officer and making false charges against him, and once for refusing a Sikh applicant on 12 separate occasions. BTW they lost both cases. Given theer are so few Sikhs in that part of the world, how many Sikh oficers would they have?

    Are they insitutionally racist? Don’t know cant tell yet, a few more cases might just tip the balance and possibly get the EHRC to wake up. Mind you I wouldnt hold me breath as EHRC is the same – they’re just as institutionally racist as the Mancunian Police bosses.

    Rab rakha!

  16. Ravi Naik — on 17th September, 2009 at 9:50 pm  

    Ahh ravi that is so compassionate of you to think of this geezers family and whatnot.

    The question is why you are not. Helmets are compulsory because it has been shown in many studies that they can reduce deaths in a collision by 37%, and long-term disabilities by 10%. The NHS is not going to stop treating people because they choose not to wear helmets, are they?

    Of course, I might be completely wrong if turbans have been shown to be as effective or near effective as helmets.

  17. Don — on 17th September, 2009 at 11:44 pm  

    Where did the 12 years of taking s£$%e come from? The report said he joined in 2003. Did I miss a link?

  18. Kulvinder — on 18th September, 2009 at 1:42 am  

    I’m not quite clear what you’re trying to ask, but he alleges their policy was ‘inadequate’ prior to him joining.

  19. Rumbold — on 18th September, 2009 at 9:20 am  

    Ravi:

    But why should adults have to wear helmets? Surely it is my choice, as an adult, whether I put myself at risk or not, especially if I know that riding without a helmet is dangerous.

    And to counter the ‘it costs the NHS money’ so does people not doing enough exercise, and we don’t make that compulsory.

  20. douglas clark — on 18th September, 2009 at 10:06 am  

    Rumbold @ 19,

    And to counter the ‘it costs the NHS money’ so does people not doing enough exercise, and we don’t make that compulsory.

    Yet.

    Looks like there might be a compromise:

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2416624.ece

  21. Ravi Naik — on 18th September, 2009 at 10:29 am  

    But why should adults have to wear helmets? Surely it is my choice, as an adult, whether I put myself at risk or not, especially if I know that riding without a helmet is dangerous. And to counter the ‘it costs the NHS money’ so does people not doing enough exercise, and we don’t make that compulsory.

    We do not make “exercise regularly” or “eating well” compulsory because it is not enforceable, deeply unfair because it would affect poor people disproportionately, and almost totalitarian, because you would need to monitor people’s lifestyles to see whether they would qualify for healthcare. Instead, we know that having a healthy lifestyle does reduce healthcare costs, and therefore the government promotes and educates about healthy lifestyle.

    Wearing a helmet or a seatbelt is enforceable, it reduces deaths in an activity that is hazardous regardless of your genes and socio-economic background, and quite frankly, there should be no exceptions.

    Rather than discussing about waivers, compromise solutions like douglas pointed out in #20 should be sought. Solutions that have been demonstrated to compromise safety is just damn irresponsible.

  22. Mangles — on 18th September, 2009 at 11:06 am  

    Isn’t that precisely what ths copper was looking for, in that he waited for his employers to come up with a policy to move forward but it appears they left it to him to find a solution.

    H&S is about mitigating risk. There is nothing to suggest that a turban does not afford ample protection. If his employers doubt that then they should investigate further, or speak to the Home office to do the research. This is not an issue for the Sikh community to address, as those Sikhs who wish to work on building sites or with police forces will continue to offer their services. And those who seek acceptance as they are need to be accommodated. So exceptions exist and with GurKirpa shall remain.

    Rab rakha!

  23. Mangles — on 18th September, 2009 at 11:17 am  

    Don:

    I agree he wasn’t employed for 12 years, but

    ‘Mr Singh claimed that GMP had no policy ‘to accommodate turbaned Sikh officers, despite being aware of the issues for the last 12 years’.’

    The reference suggests then that other Sikhs had raised the matter and had also been taking s£$%e for that period

    Rab rakha!

  24. Refresh — on 18th September, 2009 at 11:36 am  

    ‘Rather than discussing about waivers, compromise solutions like douglas pointed out in #20 should be sought. Solutions that have been demonstrated to compromise safety is just damn irresponsible.’

    Chicken and egg. Waivers until you have the alternatives/compromises – or – exclusion?

    In the end, its about having a force which is representative and from the community it serves.

  25. cjcjc — on 18th September, 2009 at 11:40 am  

    @21 Of course it can’t be enforced, but are poor people less able to walk/jog or buy vegetables instead of chips?

  26. Ravi Naik — on 18th September, 2009 at 12:03 pm  

    Chicken and egg. Waivers until you have the alternatives/compromises – or – exclusion?

    I do not think waivers actually motivate anyone to find a suitable compromise, it is just a way of perpetuating the status quo. It is very likely that we would have a turban-helmet solution a long time ago, if there have been no exceptions, because it would have motivated a lot of people to find a safer solution.

    My brother was saved by wearing a safety belt when his car crashed in a rainy day a few years ago. He is the sort of guy who would choose not to wear it. The safety belt left a huge mark on his body, such was the force of the impact. So I am very biased on the issue of road safety.

  27. persephone — on 18th September, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    I am in two minds about this as I sway between:

    - that its really religion/god enforcing dress and questioning why is religion making a human choose observance over personal safety? But then you get into other situations of personal choice at work eg should women be enforced to wear modified stilettos in the best interests of H&S as well employers having to make reasonable adjustments. (I know a facilities manager whose bane in life are stiletto wearing women spoiling his floors)

    - my personal bias in that historically sikhs were involved in several world wars and were prepared to take the risk so let them be and for the force to make reasonable adjustments as these guys are doing a public job with recruitment issues.

    Wouldn’t it be great that if he won the compensation, he spent it on developing and patenting a riot turban. I can just see this on Dragon’s Den.

  28. G Singh — on 18th September, 2009 at 12:58 pm  

    “British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans. At that time we were not adamant that they should wear safety helmets because we knew that they are not going to wear them anyways and we would be deprived of their help. At that time due to our miserable and poor situation, we did not force it on them to wear safety helmets, why should we force it now? Rather, we should now respect their traditions and by granting this legitimate concession, win their applaud.”

    Winston Churchill

  29. Raja Sahib — on 18th September, 2009 at 3:23 pm  

    anyway on a more serious note … who were the most loyal subjects of the british indian empire?

    the bengalis? until the annexation of the punjab, they were the cannon fodder of the british army in india

    what about moslem?
    the sikhs? did they take over the bengalis role after the battle of “goojerat”?

  30. Rumbold — on 18th September, 2009 at 4:27 pm  

    Douglas:

    I really hope those turbans work properly.

    Ravi:

    “Wearing a helmet or a seatbelt is enforceable, it reduces deaths in an activity that is hazardous regardless of your genes and socio-economic background, and quite frankly, there should be no exceptions.”

    But why is it anyone’s business but the person’s in question? I know you say that your borther was saved by a seatbeat, and that is fair enough, but examining it from a theoretical point of view, why is it the state’s business?

  31. douglas clark — on 18th September, 2009 at 4:47 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Me too. But it’s from the Sun so that’s all right then!

  32. Rumbold — on 18th September, 2009 at 4:50 pm  

    Heh.

  33. Ravi Naik — on 18th September, 2009 at 5:21 pm  

    But why is it anyone’s business but the person’s in question? I know you say that your borther was saved by a seatbeat, and that is fair enough, but examining it from a theoretical point of view, why is it the state’s business?

    From a theoretical point of view, are you implying that the state has absolutely nothing to lose (economically) when its citizens die or get crippled for life when it is easily preventable and enforceable? Because if there is a cost, then it becomes the state’s business.

  34. David T — on 18th September, 2009 at 5:33 pm  

    I once met a white Sikh who converted for the purpose of avoiding the obligation to wear a helmet.

    (He later found spiritual value in the teachings of the religion)

  35. Rumbold — on 19th September, 2009 at 10:25 am  

    Ravi:

    I was thinking of the liberty argument.

  36. douglas clark — on 19th September, 2009 at 10:49 am  

    Well Rumbold @ 35
    ,

    Is there not a balance to be struck between your ‘liberty’ arguement and the cost benefit analysists of the state in which we live?

    I can see both sides, I suppose.

    On the one hand Toad, rushing along the highways freaked out on speed. (Believe me, I’ve seen it and done it.) About to crash without a care in the world. Perhaps that crash involves a child?

    And the grey bastards that would, indeed, have a man with a flag, walking slowly afront your motor vehicle?

    Dunno who’s planet I’d rather live on. Neither seems particularily attractive.

  37. Rumbold — on 19th September, 2009 at 11:04 am  

    Douglas:

    Well, I am not saying that people should be able to speed, as that involves others. But wearing headgear only affects you, and doesn’t increase the risk of death/injury to others.

  38. douglas clark — on 19th September, 2009 at 1:11 pm  

    Well, in the latter half of my ‘arguement’:

    And the grey bastards that would, indeed, have a man with a flag, walking slowly afront your motor vehicle?

    why should anyone have to wear a crash helmet? The safety police will assure us of a speed, so, so slow that boredom is more likely to kill us all!

    And

    but examining it from a theoretical point of view, why is it the state’s business?

    Presumeably because it is a ‘cost’ to the state. Never mind that only accountants appear incapable of seeing a debit – the cost of the injury, and the rightful credit – what the person has paid in, as singular and distinct. They strike me as trained by American Health Care consultants about pre-existing conditions. It seems to me that everyone has a pre-existing condition. It is called being dead.

    Heh! Who’s the libertarian around here?

  39. Rumbold — on 19th September, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

    Douglas:

    But many things are a cost to the state (i.e. the taxpayer), but it doesn’t mean that we ban them. For example, if someone eats well, exercises, and doesn’t smoke, they will probably live a long time, which is a cost to the state in terms of pensions and care.

  40. Marcin — on 21st September, 2009 at 2:49 pm  

    Things like this are pissing me off. It is absolutely unacceptable behaviour from this guy.
    This is England – not an India. Law is a law. Same for everyone. It doesn’t matter wheather you are a muslim, catholic, sikh, baptist. Everybody is equal. The company wants to protects their employees in best possible manner forcing them to wear correct PPE. If he had an accident on the motorbike, his skull could be severily crashed. I’m not a racist but most of the Asians are upsetting me by cheating, lying, trying to get goods (money or Polish girls) in very checky way. Do not let them rule this country.
    I’m coming from Poland and if something like that happened there, he would be kicked out from the job with no court option. Anyway he would be beaten by Polish yobs straight away.

  41. Ravi Naik — on 21st September, 2009 at 4:09 pm  

    trying to get goods (money or Polish girls)

    Since you are new to this country, let me give you a word of advice: we do not refer to women – regardless of race – as goods. I also understand that many of your countrymen are not used to see successful dark people in Poland, and therefore for some racists, this can only be the result of cheating and lying, as opposed to hard work.

  42. Rumbold — on 21st September, 2009 at 8:20 pm  

    Well said Ravi.

  43. douglas clark — on 21st September, 2009 at 10:56 pm  

    Marcin,

    One of the ways of determining what is ‘reasonable’ in terms of the law is to take a case like this to court. Whilst I do not believe for one moment that it justifies a claim for £200,000 compensation, there is a matter of principle behind it. If it is appealed far enough, it will set a precedent, whoever wins….

    And I too agree with Ravi.

  44. douglas clark — on 21st September, 2009 at 11:05 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I was just joshing with you. Still, I’d have thought it was a Libertarian sort of case to say that the state has no wealth of it’s own. And that the contract that we as citizens enter into with it, unwillingly perhaps but inevitably, is one where government claims the right to determine how we should live in order to minimise it’s costs.

    I’d imagine a serious brain injury at a relatively early age is a huge cost to the state, quite apart from the personal tragedy.

    There will always be this friction between individual liberty and state, ahem, prudence. The extent of that is a battlefield.

    Methinks.

  45. ukliberty — on 21st September, 2009 at 11:44 pm  

    I’m not sure the police can legally accept such a waiver even if they wanted to – I’d be surprised if they could and I’m interested in more info on the ‘declaration’ he signed.

  46. Marcin — on 23rd September, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

    Ravi Naik
    At some point I agree with you. 1/3 of Polish are racists especially in small towns and villages (I hate them for that). However in big Cities like Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow there are some dark succesfull guys (Doctors, Engineers, Managers) who are well respected by local people.
    I disagree with you in terms of your words:
    “I also understand that many of your countrymen are not used to see successful dark people in Poland”.
    Trying to get a money in the easiest possible way is not a success.This guy is just big headed trying to prove everybody that H&S is not a priority for him. I’m part of management of Construction Company in UK and I know how H&S Act at Work 1974 is important to everyone. Therefore I’m putting my religion behing H&S.
    When i will be a constrction manager in the near future and there will be a Sikh construction worker I will simply discharge my responsibility of severity of his injuries contributed by not wearing the correct PPE. I’m aware that Sikh are exempted from wearing PPE and I hope that this legislation will change soon.
    Cheers.

  47. Mangles — on 1st October, 2009 at 7:13 pm  

    Gurmeal Singh has today won his triunal case against Greater Manchester Police, who have been found to have indirectly discriminated and harassed him.

    Rab Rakha!

  48. Don — on 2nd October, 2009 at 8:13 pm  

    #49

    Tell us what it is and we won’t. No need to get peevish.

    What, even if it’s Satanism or Scientolgy?

    OK, fine. Anything your religion does or advocates is beyond reproach. Whatever religion that is, or whatever it advocates, we’re all ok with that. Let us never question any aspect of religion. Or is it just your religion that is unquestionable?

    Could you clarify? Is it only your religion we don’t say nothimg about?

    #50

    Yeah, let’s get him.

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