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Sikh Officer Wearing Turban OK, Judge Rules

April 30, 2004  | 

A judge has ruled that a Sikh man who says he was forced to resign from the NYPD because of religious discrimination should be rehired and allowed to wear a turban and untrimmed beard, as is his religious custom.

Jasjit Singh Jaggi, who was a traffic officer with the New York Police Department, made a complaint to the New York Human Rights Commission in July 2002 after the NYPD warned him that he would be fired if he refused to remove his turban and cut his beard.

The NYPD said it wanted every traffic officer to wear a police hat and that wearing religious headgear could be dangerous. “He would not be recognized as a traffic agent and he could not put on a gas mask in an emergency,” the department said.

Jaggi called Judge Donna Merris’ preliminary ruling that he was in fact discriminated against “a victory for Sikhs.” It is not clear when a final ruling will be made on the case.

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