US firm calls Sikh bin Laden
Boston: Automobile parts retailer AutoZone has been sued by a federal agency for discriminating against a Sikh employee,who was not allowed to wear a turban and was called bin Laden and terrorist by the firms other employees and customers.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),a federal agency enforcing laws against workplace discrimination,has filed a lawsuit against AutoZone alleging it created a hostile work environment for Frank Mahoney Burroughs because of his Sikh religion.
The lawsuit alleges that a manager at AutoZone asked Burroughs if he was a terrorist and had joined Al Qaida and whether he intended to blow up the store.Further,AutoZone failed to intervene when customers referred to Burroughs as bin Laden and made terrorist jokes.
AutoZone also refused to let Burroughs,who had converted to Sikhism,wear a turban and kara (a religious bracelet) as required by his religion.When Burroughs complained against the discrimination,AutoZone retaliated by firing him because of his religion.
It was very painful to be humiliated and insulted by them (AutoZone).They made me feel as though I had no right to practice my faith, Burroughs said in a statement.He added that when he complained,he was discarded like a piece of trash.Burroughs,who says he spent more time with Auto-Zone staff than with his own family,does not want AutoZone to do this to anyone else.The lawsuit filed in US district court for the district of Massachusetts on Tuesday adds that Burroughs was subjected to bigoted harassment and Autozone allegedly refused to accommodate his religious need to wear a turban.
The matter was brought to the EEOCs notice by the Sikh Coalition,the nations largest Sikh civil rights organisation.The group filed the charge in March 2010.