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AT&T Reverses Kirpan Ban After Sikh Coalition Intervenes


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    Brecksville, Ohio: An AT&T office in Brecksville, Ohio has reversed its workplace ban against kirpans. Harcharan Singh (Sandhu), an IT consultant from India will be allowed to continue consulting for AT&T and will not be sent back to India. AT&T reversed its decision one week after the Sikh Coalition's intervention.

    Harcharan Singh is an amritdhari Sikh employed by called Tech Mahindra. As mandated by his faith, he carries a kirpan. Tech Mahindra sent him from India to Brecksville, Ohio in May of 2007 to provide IT consulting services for AT&T. Shortly after Harcharan Singh started, he voluntarily disclosed to Tech Mahindra and AT&T that he carried a kirpan. Over the course of the summer the two companies discussed the issue of whether Mr. Sandhu should be allowed to carry his kirpan while working at AT&T.

    Initially Told He Could Not Carry His Kirpan and that He Would Be Sent Back to India

    On September 18, 2007, Tech Mahindra info rmed Harcharan Singh that AT&T would not allow him to wear a kirpan in the workplace. They gave him an ultimatum: Give up his kirpan in the workplace, or give up his assignment and go back to India .

    Harcharan Singh contacted the Sikh Coalition later that day. On the morning of September 19, 2007, the Coalition faxed a letter to a Senior Technical Director at AT&T that explained the significance of the kirpan and requested that the company reconsider its decision. The letter included the Coalition's now standard twenty-eight page compilation of legal argument and precedent on the kirpan and Sikhs' right to carry it.

    After reading the letter and attachments, the Senior Technical Director expressed to Harcharan Singh his belief that the kirpan was religious article and should be allowed in the workplace. However, the Director's superiors at AT&T told him that they must first have staff from the corporate security department view his kirpan before making a final decision. AT&T allowed Harcharan Singh to continue working from its Brecksville, OH office pending its decision.

    Final Decision

    A week later, on September 26, 2007, a corporate security staff member from AT&T's office in Columbus, OH viewed his kirpan and took pictures of it. The next day, on September 27, 2007, AT&T info rmed Tech Mahindra that it would reverse its initial decision and allow him to carry his kirpan in its workplace.

    Harcharan Singh remains in the U.S. and continues to proudly wear his kirpan in his workplace at AT&T. The Coalition would like to thank AT&T for its prompt attention to its concerns and its work to ensure the workplace is respectful of America 's diversity.
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