The Sikh Coalition, an American civil rights organization, has filed a case against, Global Medical Response (GMR) and its subsidiary American Medical Response (AMR) for the wrongful termination of a Sikh paramedic.
Graham F. West, programs director at the Sikh Coalition told indica that Inder Dhanota, a paramedic by training worked for GMR/AMR, but they refused to accommodate his need for personal protective equipment (PPE) compatible with his kesh (beard), one of the Sikh articles of
When indica asked many doctors who wears beard and turban then why he cannot, West said, “You are very right to point out that many Sikh doctors, nurses, med students, dentists, dental students, etc. serve in the medical response field with no such issue, which is why GMR/AMR’s decision to terminate his employment is so unfortunate.”
The Sikh Coalition has filed dual charges of discrimination and complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Civil Rights Department against GMR and its subsidiary AMR on July 24.
A GMR spokesperson told indica, “We do not comment on pending litigation.”
This complaint is a result of an allleged wrongful termination of Dhanota, a Sikh paramedic and client represented by the Sikh Coalition, Scott Employment Law, P.C., and Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP.
According to the Sikh Coalition, on December 22, last year, Dhanota was dismissed from GMR/AMR after multiple months of attempting to request personal protective equipment (PPE) that would accommodate his Sikh articles of faith, including his beard.
Despite the fact that Dhanota completed his orientation successfully (including field training), was hired to work for AMR, cleared for duty, and requested AMR provide him with a religious accommodation, AMR still insisted that Dhanota shave before returning to the job he had already been successfully performing.
Ultimately, Dhanota was dismissed from his position after waiting nearly six months since he had first requested an accommodation — and for nearly half of that time, he was unable to clock into work.
“I am incredibly disheartened and frustrated that I was strung along for months as I sought an accommodation, only to ultimately be turned away from doing the job that I was trained to do,” said Dhanota through a press note. “I lost out on an opportunity to earn a living doing work that helps others, and it is hard to know that I could be using my knowledge of medical and emergency preparedness right now if not for such a simple request.”
“Like any company, GMR and its subsidiaries have a simple obligation in cases like Dhanota provides, equipment that both keeps their employees safe and respects their faith,” added Amreen Partap Singh Bhasin, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney. “This pattern of behavior, as evidenced by the experiences of multiple clients, is alarming. We all benefit from having as many qualified medical professionals who are willing to render emergency services out on the job.”
According to the Sikh Coalition, in October 2022, the EEOC has filed a nationwide lawsuit against these same parent companies after the civil rights organization filed a complaint on Ravinder Singh’s behalf for being wrongfully terminated by AMR and denied a PPE accommodation.
Dhanota is the second client, after Ravinder Singh, who has approached the Sikh Coalition for legal assistance due to employment discrimination by this company.
The Sikh Coalition says they will continue to advocate for Dhanota’s rights and to push GMR to change its discriminatory policies.
The Sikh Coalition states that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has led the way in working to ensure that Sikh healthcare employees are able to access and use PPE that functions properly with their articles of faith.
“And they have provided guidance on requesting accommodations, submitted policy recommendations and testimony to government agencies, taken on individual legal cases like Dhanota’s, and even secured and distributed donated PAPRs to individuals in need.”