Sikh workers in Houston might be protected by a case elsewhere that ruled that a trucking company did not offer reasonable accommodation to its Sikh drivers when it required them to offer a piece of their cut hair for drug testing. One other man, who would not remove his turban for a urine test, was also part of the suit. Sikhs’ religion prohibits men from cutting their hair, and removing a turban is considered an act that is only done in private.
The truckers were all from California while the company is Arkansas-based. The company did not admit wrongdoing, but it paid $260,000 to be split between the four men who brought the case and agreed to make religious accommodations for drug testing in the future. It also agreed to train its employees in hiring and revise its policies about discrimination. The men were also provisionally offered their jobs back, but they did not pursue the offer.
According to the Sikh Coalition, the civil rights group that represented the men, there are also pharmaceutical and tech companies that have asked men for hair samples, and the outcome of this case may help them and other truck drivers. There are alternatives to using hair in drug samples such as fingernail clippings.
Workers are protected against discrimination in various categories including discrimination on the grounds of religion, race and sex. Companies are also required to make a reasonable accommodation for disabled employees. Employees might be afraid to pursue a discrimination complaint because they are concerned about retaliation. In some cases, both they and their employers might not know their rights. A worker might want to consult an attorney about how they can best pursue their claim given their individual circumstances.