Lexus Recruiter Tells Sikh to Lose Facial Hair or Not Be Hired
(Little Falls, NJ) November 7, 2008 - A Sikh who was told to shave his facial hair or not be hired filed a charge of discrimination last week with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Gurpreet Singh (Kherha) applied for an automotive sales position with Tri-County Lexus in Little Falls, New Jersey this past February. After completing two days of preliminary training, a recruiter for Lexus told Gurpreet Singh that he would not be hired because Lexus has a corporate policy prohibiting facial hair for salespersons.
Two Days of Training and Interviews and Then a Rejection
In February, T.K. Worldwide, an automotive sales recruiting and training company, recruited Gurpreet to apply for a sales position at Tri-County Lexus. After completing two days of training at Lexus, Gurpreet participated in a group interview with other trainees.
After completion of the group interview, a recruiter for T.K. Worldwide approached Gurpreet and asked why he maintained a beard and asked if his beard is a religious requirement. Gurpreet explained that he is a practicing Sikh who does not cut his hair, including his facial hair. The recruiter then asked Gurpreet if he would be willing to remove his beard in order to obtain a job as a Tri-County Lexus sales representative. Gurpreet replied he would not.
The recruiter then left Gurpreet. Upon his return he informed Gurpreet he had not been selected for a sales position at Tri-County Lexus.
The recruiter then pulled Gurpreet aside. He told Gurpreet that Tri-County Lexus' General Manager stated hewas "exactly what they were looking for"; "well-qualified" and "well-educated" but that Lexus of America has a corporate policy prohibiting salespersons from maintaining facial hair. The recruiter also stated that Tri-County's general manager had contacted Lexus' corporate headquarters to request an accommodation for Gurpreet's religious practices, but had been rejected.
The Coalition Steps In
Gurpreet contacted the Sikh Coalition in April 2008. The Coalition worked with Gurpreet to engage attorney Ravinder Singh (Bhalla) to lead any possible litigation on behalf of Gurpreet.
Ravinder Singh and the Coalition have since been in direct contact with attorneys for Lexus of America and TriCounty Lexus. Lexus denies that it has a corporate policy prohibiting facial hair but it has not produced documents stating so. To protect Gurpreet's rights, the Coalition in the meantime has worked with attorney Ravinder Singh to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Coalition will assist Gurpreet in filing a lawsuit if necessary to protect the rights of Sikhs.
It is the Coalition's intention to pursue this matter until Sikhs can freely obtain employment at Lexus dealerships without discrimination. As always, the Sikh Coalition calls on all Sikhs to stand up for their rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.