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NEWS: New York Subway Driver faces demotion in turban row

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posted on Jan, 9 2005 @ 11:57 AM
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Kevin Harrington, a motorman for the New York Transit Authority, has been instructed he must wear a badge on his turban or he faces demotion. Harrington, a practicing Sikh, feels this violates his religious freedom. Harrington's lawyer stated his client has worn his turban for 25 years and was never required to wear his badge prior to 9/11.
 



www.stuff.co.nz
NEW YORK: A Sikh subway driver is being forced to wear a badge on his turban or face being demoted and sent to the stock yards, his lawyer said today.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which operates the subways, told motorman Kevin Harrington to wear the MTA badge or he cannot not work with customers.

"If he wears it, he can operate in customer service areas, if not then he's relegated to yard duty," Charles Seaton, spokesman for the MTA's Transit Authority, said.

"I feel wearing the patch violates my religious freedom," Harrington, 53, told The New York Daily News.

"The turban is a sacred space, so it's like asking a priest to wear a logo on his vestments."




Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


I am wondering just how far religious fanatics are going to exploit "their religion" in this way? I know that in my community all drivers of buses are required to wear a hat while in service and the badge is on all of them, yes even those who wear turbans.

I Wonder why I have not read anything in my local paper noting where similar complaints have been filed here? Does this just happen where there are larger concentrations of people who practice Muslim and Indian religions?

These immigrants who may or may not be US citizens have to realize they are public servants and they are required to wear a badge that has a purpose. That purpose is to identify the driver when reporting them to the authorities when they do something wrong. Just why they have a problem with this I do not know. What comes next?

Related News Links:
www.reuters.com
www.expressindia.com


[edit on 9-1-2005 by Banshee]




posted on Jan, 9 2005 @ 10:49 PM
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1. We don't know that he's an immigrant. He may have been born and raised here like several other Sikh's I know.

2. Why isn't having a badge on his chest good enough?

3. Plain clothes don't have to wear badges on hats they wear.

4. Would a Jew need to have a badge on a yamaca (sp?) if they were to wear one while on duty?

5. If he has on a full uniform does it really matter? I mean seriously, isn't the uniform enough?

6. I just don't get why him not wanting to put something on his headdress is a problem. Obviously, this head dress is sacred in his religion. There is no ornamentation on it. He hasn't had to wear on in the past. Why now? Oh wait, I know, because he probably has brown skin. And we all know, unless you have white skin and are Christian; when you argue for your religious freedom you're just a crazy religious person.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 05:16 AM
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This sounds like religious discrimination to me. The turban is a symbol of the Sikh faith like a yamaka is to a Jew. He should not be forced to put a badge on his turban as it is not necessary for him to do so to be able to perform his job.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:02 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
This sounds like religious discrimination to me. The turban is a symbol of the Sikh faith like a yamaka is to a Jew. He should not be forced to put a badge on his turban as it is not necessary for him to do so to be able to perform his job.


How can it be religious discrimination when other Sikh's say the turban is not a religous symbol?


For the Sikhs, the turban is not a religious symbol, but a necessity: It neatly covers the uncut hair that is a religious requirement.

Source



Kindly note the site given as a source is a Sikh site.

[edit on 1/10/2005 by shots]



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:19 AM
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Originally posted by shots
These immigrants who may or may not be US citizens

Uhmm, Harrington is not an indian name. The man is a convert, he converted to sikhism 30 years ago, and joined the MTA 5 years ago. Up til recently they allowed him to wear an unadorned turban. And currently they do not require badges on jewish skull caps. The practice is out of sync with their own standards and discriminatory, sinceother religions aren't being required to wear the badge, and the man, well, if he is an immigrant, he immigrated from england, but I suspect he's even native born.

Anyway the jerk should wear the damned little badge. Its not apparently against sikhism to wear it, therefore he has no real world claim to not wearing it. His discrimination claim seems reasonable, assuming its true.



That purpose is to identify the driver when reporting them to the authorities when they do something wrong.

No, it is not. Its not like a cops badge. THe guy is a subway train operator. The badge is a little cloth 'badge', the type that one can sew on, and its held on his turban by a rubber/elastic strap. It doesn't look gaudy, it looks professional, and once one gets over the general silliness of a turban it looks rather dignified. The little badge that stays 'MTA" doesn't make a mockery of the religion.


Just why they have a problem with this I do not know.

He feels its somehow cheapening the turban, and also claims its wrong to stick an 'advertisement' on it. I agree, its complete BS, tho I can understand how he's a bit ticked if others don't have to and especially since he was hired without it being a problem and worked for 25years without it being a problem. I think, personally, that it should've been a problem 25 years ago. But it happening now in a climate where everyone is worried about terrorists in turbans is disapointing to say the least.


djonsto77
He should not be forced to put a badge on his turban

Why? Its not a requirement of his religion to have nothing on a turban.


Apparently there are a few different types of badges, because the one I've seen him in before is even smaller and is just a yellow cirlce, dark blue border, black MTA lettering. It obviously doesn't cheapen the turban. He works for the MTA ferchrisakes, how can he say it cheapens it? They're accomodating him by taking special consideration to make his clothing preference as part of the MTA uniform. All MTA employees are supposed to wear headwear as a part of their uniforms.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:22 AM
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I believe this incident is going to turn into a fight of wills, and as anything in our beloved country it will be blown out of proportions.

In my opinion if he wants to keep his job he should do what has been told.

At least they are not asking for him to take his turban off.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:25 AM
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Let's see, there was another world leader who had a certain group of people wear badges....what was his name again??? Oh yeah! Adolf something or other....


*listens for the goose-stepping....*

EDIT: though of course, he should still wear a badge, just not necessarily on his turban, unless it is mandatory that other drivers wear them on their headgear, etc.

[edit on 10-1-2005 by Gazrok]



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:38 AM
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How can it be religious discrimination when other Sikh's say the turban is not a religous symbol?

Hmm, interesting. I had been under the impression that it infact was. The long hair, the sword, the comb and turban, all symbols of various aspects, like the comb is a 'non-ascetic' symbol, since they comb their hair, unlike, say, smelly hippies. And the turban is supposed to be a symbol of nobility. But perhaps tehy aren't requirements. I suppose a problem is that there might not be as much 'centralization' in this religion as in others. Perhaps some of the Sikh fellow ATSers can enlighten the rest of us as to how important it is. If its not as meaningful as one might expect, not as necessary to the religion as, say, a jewish yarmulka, then perhaps he can be required to remove it and wear the regular cap? I know muslims aren't supposed to actually be required to wear their headscarves and such, and there are muslims in this case with the MTA also.

Interestingly, they haven't been forced ot wear the badge. THe MTA merely moves them to a less public section where there are more lax rules about the uniform.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:52 AM
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Actually every MTA employee must wear a hat which has MTA on it. Male, Female, Jew, White, Black, Muslim, whatever. It's not like it is only applying to this guy because he's wearing a Turban. It's for all MTA employees who are seeing customers.

It's also more accurately a patch, not a badge in the NYPD sense of the word Badge.

Sadly, you all only heard of this recently. This isn't the first time this case has been spoken of in NYC. Originally the problem was the city wanted him to wear the standard issue MTA hat (with MTA logo patch) that EVERY employee wears. He said no because he needs to wear his Turban and a compromise was reached in which an MTA logo patch was able to be displayed on his Turban.

A great compromise? Not really. But I don't think it should be made to look like the MTA is only making one man wear a symbol on his head when in fact any MTA Employee who deals with customers must have a hat with that very patch.

By the way, the references to the Jewish head covering in comparison are so dead wrong it's almost funny. The orthodox jewish males who cover their heads can do so with anything. A baseball-style cap with an MTA logo on it would be perfectly permissible for them to wear instead of the yarmulka. Additionally since the Jewish head covering is a small piece of fabric that sits at the top of the head, how would one display the logo? You'd have to stand on a step ladder to see it if the guy was tall wouldn't you? Really, find out more about different religions before lumping them all together, it's not helpful at all.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 10:57 AM
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While I certainly respect the religous beliefs of all, one must understand that post 9/11 is a different world. Everyone is required to wear headware as I understand it, and a badge must adorn the headware. Sorry, but IMHO the man must comply.
He would probably be the first to cry foul if he were investigated after being reported by a suspicous passenger.
It is a strange time, and security surveillance is heightened, as it should be.
Wear the badge.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 11:32 AM
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Are they require to wear uniforms, or is the hat and badge the only identifying thing they have showing they are legit?

I mean, if it is a standard uniform I not sure why they would need a hat to make them look offical as well. I mean, isn't a unform enough?

If they don't have uniforms I think that might be a more important issue they need to take up. A uniform is something hard to miss, a badge, even on a hat or headdress is very easy to miss.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 01:55 PM
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Well it's all about formality. Do MTA workers have a uniform? Well, sort of. It depends on what you mean by uniform. Is it a uniform as in Super-Recognizable attire like the NYPD or FDNY, nah not really.

Do they have to wear blue button down shirts, a dark pair of pants and a dark blue/black vest? Yes depending on the job. Of course someone doing safety work would be wearing a bright orange vest, or someone who's job it would be to specifically be visible (say you're handing out brochures with track changes for tomorrow) might wear the orange one.

But the hat, which clearly states the agency name is part of the standard apparel. A properly dressed NYPD employee wears a hat.

As a matter of fact, does anyone remember the first prominent Sikh NYC case in which two Sikh police officers were having similar problems? The NYPD hat has a badge on it. Not simply a patch this time, but an actual badge. The Officers now wear the badge on the Turban to allow them to accomplish both ends.

Now, I personally use this very transit system just about every day of my life, and I've never EVER seen an on duty MTA worker wear a Yankee hat or anything to that effect of what he is saying. Every other worker on duty has worn the MTA hat as long as I've been riding the trains.

I even had the unique opportunity to see the Sikh Traffic Agent Badge on Turban in person myself a while back directing traffic near the Brooklyn Bridge and I considered it an accomplishment on both sides. The uniform of the NYPD was respected and the man's religion was respected. Unfortunately this case seems more difficult.



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 02:01 PM
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Interesting. Thanks for the additional info!



posted on Jan, 10 2005 @ 06:57 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
Uhmm, Harrington is not an indian name. The man is a convert, he converted to sikhism 30 years ago, and joined the MTA 5 years ago. Up til recently they allowed him to wear an unadorned turban. And currently they do not require badges on jewish skull caps. The practice is out of sync with their own standards and discriminatory, sinceother religions aren't being required to wear the badge, and the man, well, if he is an immigrant, he immigrated from england, but I suspect he's even native born.


Have I missed something here? You are saying he has only worked for MTA for five years yet his lawyer stated; "his client had always worn the turban in his 25 years on the job, but it was only after "9/11 that the agency tried to get its Sikh and Muslim employees to stop wearing their turbans and hijabs".

Just curious how you came to your conclusion.



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