Friday, January 30, 2009

War for turban -Deepinder Loomba conitnues...

There are many cases of 'racial' abuse or bias and the ones related with turban are very old and have become a part of the life of Sikhs living in foreign lands. But this case is a little different. It's different for two reasons.

1. It happened in Canada, where Sikhs are no more a minority community; in general sense.

2. There has been a lot of work done by the Sikh societies in Canada that such issues should get resolved very easily and at the earliest but this case is hanging out there so many years that it has made a simple foolish mistake/comment of a single person a headline.

I'm amazed!

The story is :

A Sikh security guard who refused to remove his turban and don a hard hat at a Home Depot store undergoing construction maintained during steady cross-examination at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal that he was threatened with loss of employment.

"The word he used was `fired,'" Deepinder Loomba told the tribunal yesterday while describing a 2005 conversation between himself and Brian Busch, assistant manager of a Home Depot store in Milton.

"That is crystal clear in your mind?" asked Kevin MacNeill, counsel for Busch and Home Depot Canada Inc.

"I am crystal clear," said Loomba.

Loomba also said his rights were violated and he was mocked.

MacNeill asked Loomba numerous times whether he misheard that he would be fired for not removing his turban. He was also questioned repeatedly on who witnessed his interactions with the manager, his actions and on notes and reports he had filed that day as part of his responsibilities as a security guard.

Loomba's lawyer, Raj Anand, called the questions a fishing expedition. "There is nothing comparable on Home Depot's side and so he has to try and batter away at Mr. Loomba's credibility because to a great extent this will be decided on who the vice-chair believes," Anand said outside the tribunal.

On Dec. 6, 2005, Loomba, who worked for Reilly's Security Services on Caledonia Rd., showed up for his morning shift at the Home Depot. The store was six weeks from being completed and some areas were under construction.

Loomba has testified that Busch told him he had to put on a hard hat, despite the fact his role was to sit at a desk away from construction zones or patrol the exterior of the facility. He said people in the area were moving around the site without hard hats.

Loomba also testified when he did not comply, Busch was rude to him and later mocked him with a group of workers at the site. After he left the facility, he said Busch approached him and told him that individuals before him had been fired for not complying in a similar fashion. At that time Busch was not wearing a hard hat, Loomba said.

"Home Depot was at best slow and at worst resistant to providing any response to this complaint for about 18 months or more," Anand said.

His client felt insulted and degraded and has had some physical effects including anxiety, headaches and insomnia as a result of the event at the store, he said.

"As a Sikh, (Loomba) has the right to wear his turban," Anand said. "It is part of his religious observance and the law is essentially that he cannot be prevented from doing that unless it would create a very extreme health and safety risk to himself or others.

"In this case, he was simply at an access desk where people were coming by to pick up their hard hats and he was providing security for that purpose."

Anand said Loomba is seeking recognition that his religious beliefs were violated by Home Depot and wants changes to their policies. He is also seeking $40,000 in compensation for physical and emotional damages.

MacNeill said there would be no comment from Busch or Home Depot until a decision is reached. Cross-examination will continue...

So what you have to say about it? I extend my full moral support to Mr. Loomba. What about you?

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