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Justice for Sikh Trucker

by Punjabi Trucking

February 2, 2021 (Sachse, TX) — The Sikh Coalition continues to fight for Sikhs in all professions–including the trucking industry–to receive equal treatment under the law and practice their faith fearlessly.

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In December of 2020, Paramjit Singh Sandhu, a truck driver, faced a violation of his religious rights when he was instructed to report to a medical facility in Sachse, TX, for what should have been a routine drug test required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Unfortunately, staff at a MedPost Urgent Care facility would not allow him to complete the procedure with his dastaar on. This claim was in violation of Mr. Sandhu’s religious and statutory rights–and the regulations of the DOT. 

Mr. Sandhu rightly refused to remove his dastaar, left the clinic, and consulted the Sikh Coalition. We contacted CareSpot, the parent company of MedPost, and advised them of this violation of the DOT’s religious accommodation policy; we were then able to secure a written accommodation for Mr. Sandhu on January 5, 2021, and he got his drug test shortly thereafter.

“I knew that it was within my rights to keep my turban during a routine drug test,” said Mr. Sandhu. “Thanks to the Sikh Coalition’s free legal advice, I was able to reach an amicable solution, and now, more people are aware of the rights afforded to all religious minorities in the trucking industry.”

The Sikh Coalition has been working on issues pertaining to drug testing for years, including our landmark 2013 settlement of a multi-year, testing-related case involving four Sikh truck drivers who were discriminated against by transportation industry giant JB Hunt. In addition to providing legal support for those in need, we also pursue proactive measures–including a comprehensive effort to hold a major training initiative with national testing company Quest Diagnostics in 2019, and working with the North American Punjabi Trucking Association to submit public comments on DOT’s hair testing requirements last year.

“Drug testing is one area where observant Sikhs are frequently and falsely told there are ‘issues’ with their articles of faith,” said Aasees Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Client and Community Services Manager. “We continue to engage in cases like Mr. Sandhu’s, and push for more protections like the DOT’s rules around accommodations for drug testing, because it remains our position that no one should have to make a choice between their religious beliefs and their career of choice.” 

If you or someone you know has encountered difficulties relating to employer-mandated drug testing, please contact the Sikh Coalition for a free legal consultation. No Sikh should have to cut their hair or remove their dastaar when submitting to a drug test. Additionally, for those in the trucking industry, take a moment to review our trucker ‘know your rights’ resource today.

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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