Car Dealership Refused to Hire Sikh Applicant and Failed to Provide Him With a Religious Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
NEWARK, N.J. -- United Galaxy Inc., a car dealership in Little Falls, New Jersey doing business as Tri-County Lexus, will pay $50,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Tri-County Lexus strictly enforced its dress code policy without granting reasonable religious accommodations, and refused to hire Gurpreet Kherha, a member of the Sikh faith, because of its policy. Kherha's religious beliefs require him to wear a beard, uncut hair and a turban. He applied for an available position as a sales associate, for which he was qualified, the EEOC said. Tri-County Lexus requested that Kherha shave his beard, and he refused to comply because of his religious beliefs. As a result, Tri-County Lexus denied him the job, the agency charged.
Religious discrimination in employment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which provide that employers may not discriminate on the basis of an employee's or applicant's religion and, where appropriate, must provide reasonable accommodations to sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices. The EEOC first attempted to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process before filing suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Newark Vicinage (EEOC v. United Galaxy Inc., d/b/a Tri-County Lexus, Civil Action No. 2:10-CV-04987 (ES)(SCM)).
In addition to the $50,000 in monetary relief to Kherha, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Tri-County Lexus from future discrimination on the basis of religion. Tri-County Lexus will also provide anti-discrimination training to both employees and management. The dealership will also post a notice regarding the resolution of the lawsuit and appoint an EEO coordinator to ensure compliance with federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
"This case represents an example of EEOC's commitment to vindicating the employment rights of those who want to observe their religion," said District Director Kevin Berry of the EEOC's New York District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman added, "We are pleased that Tri-County Lexus partnered with us to resolve this suit. This settlement will protect employees and future applicants from religious discrimination and inform all that the EEOC will take vigorous action to remedy it. It will also serve as a vehicle to educate other employers about the Sikh faith."
The Newark Area Office is part of the EEOC's New York District, which has jurisdiction over cases in New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and northern New Jersey.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.