SOLIDARITY TRADE UNION has welcomed the recent outcome of a religious and racial discrimination case brought against Greater Manchester Police.
An employment tribunal ruled that Sikh police officer, Gurmeal Singh, 31, was subjected to "indirect discrimination" and "harassment". On Friday 2nd October he was awarded £10,000 compensation.
PC Singh joined the force in 2003 and was based at Wythenshawe Police Station. He is a baptised and practicing Sikh and maintains that it is against his religion to remove his turban in public or modify it.
He was ordered to do a riot training course while off work with stress. At the course he was told to remove his turban and put on a helmet.
He had previously told his superiors that he would not remove the turban on religious grounds. The turban is worn by Sikhs as part of their identity. It is perhaps the most basic and fundamental aspects of the Sikh religion.
Commenting on the importance of the turban, PC Singh said: "My turban is not an article of clothing like a tie - it is part of me, a part of my religion and I feel as though my religion and I have become an issue for GMP."
The incident arose from a heated meeting with his Sergeant. Judge Murray Creed said "This tribunal is satisfied that the meeting was not calm. "There was a degree of hyped emotion. He [the sergeant] was aggressive and challenging in his manner."
Greater Manchester Police were found guilty of “harassment from a superior” and "indirect discrimination" because the rules surrounding the riot training lacked "clarity".
PC Singh had been told at various times that he would not have to do the riot training. He was then included on a group email on February 8 2008, telling officers that the training was mandatory and he would therefore have to remove his turban.
Solidarity Trade Union General Secretary Patrick Harrington welcomed the ruling.
"We have to make a principled stand here. Discrimination is illegal under employment legislation. This legislation applies to everyone.
This case underlines the importance of respect for cultural, racial and ethnic differences. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ outlook is deeply flawed."
Solidarity members who feel they are being racially discriminated against at work should contact me as soon as possible at [email protected]